Posts by Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins is a Performance Consultant, and the Author of The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat and Cure Your Training Department

How to Be a Really Stupid Leader

Stupid Leaders

What makes a leader stupid? Most believe it is a combination of a number of unattractive and unproductive behaviors that are incorporated into their style that makes them unsuccessful, along with a refusal to change.

A stupid leader is a committed self-serving leader.

They see every situation and activity from their own vantage point and are unable to head in a different direction.

Smart or Stupid?

Learning how to be a successful leader requires time and attention on what the stupid leader behaviors are, so by doing the opposite, a person can develop into a smart leader instead.

While the following list is anything but complete, it is a good start of some of the top things to include if you too want to be known as a stupid leader someday.

9 Ways to Be a Really Stupid Leader

1) Allow Your Ego to Lead You

Stupid leaders are known for being arrogant and full of themselves. They don’t need a formal fan club because they are so enamored by their greatness that they lack the need for reinforcement. If you remember to lead with your ego, and always remember your importance in the scheme of things, nothing can go wrong.

2) Cultivate a Selective Memory

Stupid leaders remember things that go well and things that make them look good. Of course there may be times where you are fully aware of a situation, that has now gone bad, but if you forget the details, hey, you are just human. Finding out the bad news with everyone else is even better, because you have the added benefit of plausible deniability to lean on too.

Just remember that too much memory loss could be considered a liability, so there may be times you remember a small detail while most of the story is fuzzy.

3) Take Credit for All Good Deeds

A stupid leader knows the value of good publicity, and is always quick to the podium or press release when there is good news to share. Stupid leaders know that there is no “I” in TEAM, but are equally aware that there is a “ME” in those letters.

Sharing credit with others is time-consuming, and if it were not for your leadership, whatever good that did happen is really secondary. Keep your focus and rather than taking time to mention other people, just arrange the talking points to make yourself the center of attention.

4) Blame Others for Troubles

Stupid leaders also realize that when trouble hits, it is a perfect time to remember you lead a team of people and they are open to human error. Whenever possible point out people with complete name, title and responsibilities when you need a fall guy or girl to blame.

Taking responsibility for something that goes bad is simply not a way to end the day on a good note, so learn the art of finger-pointing and get good at it!

5) Avoid the Truth

Now while many people call it lying, it is better to call it a redirection or deflection. When people ask a direct question, often they think they want a direct answer. The truth is they want to feel good, and telling them what they want to hear avoids conflict.

Don’t worry about them finding out later what really happened, by then they will forget who told them.

And even if they have you on video, you can always say they misunderstood your intent. Bottom line, truth builds trust between people, and that is the last thing a really stupid leader wants to build.

6) Demonize Your Enemies

One of the best skills a stupid leader must be good at is to demonize anyone that is against your vision and success. Just because they have a different opinion doesn’t make them right, and debating them is a big waste of time. These people are against you, and just like in war they are the enemy.

For a stupid leader to be successful they must make their enemies appear incompetent, immoral or crazy.

Don’t hide behind a lampshade and expect others to do this for you. Get out there and trash these people yourself!

7) Close Your Mind to New Ideas

Serious stupid leaders know that for them to lead others it is important never to share the stage, less the followers lose focus on them.   Listening to other ideas would only spark a possible change in direction, and stupid leaders know with certainty that changing course makes you look weak.

Sticking to your own ideas no matter how wrong you might be only opens the door to criticism. And imagine what would happen if you did try another approach and it worked; you would have to share the credit!

8) Talk Your Talk and Avoid the Walk

So called leadership gurus have been saying for years that it is more important to walk your talk than talk it. But stupid leaders know that if you talk long enough, and keep the message on track, people begin to believe that snow is hot to the touch. Walking in any direction only confuses people, and talking more saves the wear and tear on your new shoes.

9) Flaunt Your Success

Lastly, it is so important for a stupid leader never to forget to flaunt their success in everyone’s face. If you got a big bonus, tell everyone how you are going to spend it. While staff members may have to save for a year to stay at a KOA camp with their family for a week, they will look up to you once they know you and your family booked your own private cruise ship for a round the world trip.

In Conclusion

Sadly we can all visualize a leader that should have their picture next to each of these points, and it was a challenge not to select photos to illustrate as examples. The lessons to be learned are simple because we need only do the opposite of what it takes to be a really stupid leader so that we can be a really brilliant leader instead.


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Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
Email | LinkedIn | Website | Blog | (562) 943-5776

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On Leadership and Burning a Few Bridges

Thank You

Conventional wisdom tells us to never burn a single bridge in our professional lives because you never know when you might need that relationship again. 

I firmly believe that there are going to be circumstances and people that nearly require you to do this:

Burn some bridges so that you will never need to work with those people again.

That’s Right, I Said It…

I have been working for the past 35 years and have learned a thing or two in this time span. For a long time I followed conventional wisdom and did whatever it took to part ways on a positive note.  There are times when the reason I was leaving was more than a promotional opportunity, more money, or a shorter commute.

These are all the generally softer ways of giving notice.

They are often spoken in truth, but many times they are used to cover up the real reasons to avoid burning bridges.

Burning a Few Bridges

Burning BridgesAs time progressed, I thought it would improve circumstances if I shared the issues that caused me to consider other opportunities, more money, or a shorter commute.

When leaving previous jobs, I did the conventional thing and had candid conversations with Human Resources during exit interviews, explaining the challenges with processes and particular personalities that cause concern and issues in the workplace.

I have spent the past 22 years in learning development, so my core was telling me that people can’t improve until they know that there is a performance gap.

Looking back, I would say that each of those times when I was honest and doing what I thought was helpful, I burned a bridge.  I’m not talking about toasting the wood a little; I’m talking about a five-alarm fire, nothing but ashes when I left.

There was no walking back over that puppy after I was finished burning it.  The people I left never spoke with me again.

And now I am left to wonder if this is really such a bad thing?

Out of the dozen or so people who would sooner slit their throat then say hello to me, I have to be honest that it doesn’t bother me in the least that they do not care about me.

These were folks that the word ethical wasn’t even in their dictionary.  Underhanded, manipulative, rude and down-right mean are better descriptors of their personalities.

I hated working for them at the time, and after leaving I felt a rush of relief at never having to work with them again.

Although it was not my intention to burn a bridge with these people, the fact remains that I did, and the primary benefit was to never hear from them again.

A Bad Referral Backfires!

Burning BridgesWhen they say we are only separated by about six people from each other at most, (six degrees of separation), it does cause a reduction in referrals and future contacts that might cause these people to question if they should begin a working relationship with you.

Recently I suffered the opposite of that type of disconnect when someone contacted an old manager to find out what kind of training professional I am and what it would be like to work with me.

I know that this must have been this guy’s dream come true to work his magic by telling this new contact what a nightmare I would be to work with.

He said this:

“Jim is a purist when it comes to training and needs to do everything the right way.  He plays by the rules and Joan of Arc has nothing on him when it comes to ethics.  It makes it challenging to work around him because he is such a goody two shoes.”

Well thanks to these comments, I have a new client that shares my servant leadership style and ethical code.

What my old manager was trying to do was clue in his friend to how difficult it will be to work with a person like me, and at the same time selling the attributes the new client was looking for in a new working relationship.

Now I will be the first to admit this situation was a fluke.

Understanding Consequences

Most of the time when you burn a bridge with someone, that person will have a negative influence over anyone asking about you, not to mention that they will never work with you again.

When I began consulting 6 years ago I was heart-broken that a particular person wasn’t giving me the time of day or throw me a bone’s worth of business.

He was angry over my leaving because as he said, “I don’t want you to go.” 

I had a difficult time explaining why I was being called to strike out on my own and go from a reliable income to complete uncertainty as a self-employed consultant.  While financially it was not the best decision I’ve ever made, it has brought me innumerable benefits I would not have collected if I had remained.

Finding a Better Route

One of these benefits has been the realization that burning a bridge forces you to find another route.

Without the easy ability to rely on old relationships to fund my new consulting business, I was forced to find new relationships early on and not wait until after the well went completely dry.

While I might have gone along with conventional wisdom in my early working years and left no bridge unburned, I’m glad to look back at a few I burned on purpose and realize that it was for my benefit that I can no longer connect with those people again.

I’ve learned overtime that you can’t fix every relationship, nor should you try.

What bridges have you burned in the past that you are glad you did? What bridges are still in place that should have been burned down? What do you think is wrong with burning a few bridges? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
Email | LinkedIn | Website | Blog | (562) 943-5776

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Is Friendship a Leadership Quality?

Friendships at Work

If you had asked me ten years ago if “friendship” is a leadership quality, I doubt I would have given it more than a second before declaring this:

“No!” Friendship is not and should not be part of leadership!

I would have added “In fact, being friends with people you work with can often cause more heartaches and headaches than it ever does any good.”

A Change of Heart

However, this last week I discovered through personal experience that I believe that friendship is a quality of leadership that is rare, and yet extremely powerful in professional relationships.

Before I share that experience, I would like to explore the concept of friendship, and hopefully bring you the reader with me in this personal discovery.

What is Friendship?

As defined by Wikipedia, Friendship is a form of interpersonal relationship generally considered to be closer than association.  The value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and Empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion
  • Trust in one another

Although I could have gone to a number of sources for a definition of friendship, I found this one particularly interesting as it could describe to your best friend and your manager.  Although we are quick to see the connections between best friends, how bad would this kind of relationship be if it were between the CEO and employees?

Leadership Qualities Worth Considering

The tendency to desire what is best for the other person

This is a win-win situation by which the employee is seeking to perform at the best possible rate to make the manager look good.  At the same time the manager is clearing a path and removing obstacles.

Empathy in the workplace

This is so often missing, or it is a one-way street.

Can you imagine what would happen if more people could empathize with the issues, restrictions and conflicts that others are going through?

Sure the manager wins big when they can empathize with an employee, but think about how much less the typical employee needs to struggle with a new set of rules if they can empathize with management and their reasoning for implementation of new processes.

Trust in one another

This could build and repair so many bridges within an organization once developed.  There is more distrust in business relationships than in personal friendships.

How wonderful would it be if we trusted each other more at work?

Two Eyes Open

Observing Friendship in Leadership

For the past five years I’ve been an independent performance consultant, trying to earn a living outside of an internal corporate environment.  Originally this was my choosing, but the poor economy kept me busy as most organizations seek to reduce full-time staff replacing them with contractors.

However, in the past year, the work has been getting much more difficult to find.

I routinely keep in touch with a long list of contacts from past employment, and last week I received an email from a former boss who has also been struggling in the past year.  In response to an email I sent him a few weeks ago, he was telling me that he had turned a corner and was doing much better.  Like most people, he ended his email with“how is your business doing?”

For some odd reason, (I like to think it was a combination of the above friendship qualities,) I answered truthfully.

I really didn’t think much about it until I got a return email that just said “Are you available for lunch?”

I read my email response again, and realized that I had bluntly said, “I’m not sure my talents are good enough to make this work.”

And now he wants to take me to lunch.

“Oh great!” I thought. “This must be some kind of pity lunch for poor little me…”

My Big Surprise

Lunch was the Ah Ha Moment!

So we set a date and time for lunch. All along I’m wondering how to save face when I meet with this guy now that I let my guard down and told him I think I’m worthless.

I’ve always admired this guy, and although I never reported directly to him, I was one of his supporters as he rose to the rank of CEO.

So why on earth are we going to lunch?

Although we moved the date 3 times with his very busy schedule, it seemed very important to him that we keep a lunch date on the calendar.   After the small talk was over, he looked at me and said he was sorry to hear I was having a “slow spot” in my work.  (That’s putting is mildly…)

He went on to remind me of everything I had done for the company for which we both had formerly worked. Much to my surprise, he told me point-blank something that absolutely blew me away.

He said this:

 “In all the companies I’ve worked for, I’ve never seen anyone in the training role lead us like you did. It was like magic!”

Feeling the Love!

Based on the words and interactions with my former “boss,” I left that lunch feeling like a million bucks!

Did this guy really need to go out of his way to lift my spirits?  Not at all! 

Yet, this gesture of friendship was a strong indicator of his leadership abilities. It was clear that he was thinking about me and not about himself. I mean, we are not buddies or pals, and this is the first social engagement I’ve ever had with him. Yet this single act of emphatic kindness and concern and his reason behind his intentions demonstrated true leadership that I will follow anywhere he wants to lead.

  • What have you done in the form of friendship that has a leadership quality to it?
  • Have you ever acted as a friend to employees and seen a positive change in their behavior?
  • Have you had a similar experience where you have witnessed friendship in a leader?

Jim Hopkins
 is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting

He a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
Email | LinkedIn | Website | Blog | (562) 943-5776

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Is Training Helping or Hurting Your Success?

Is Your Training Effective

I have been called a “purist” for believing that the training / learning function within every company is vital to the ultimate success of said company.

Keeping it Simple

I work off the simple premise that companies have goals and objectives to meet.  They hire human beings to do tasks to meet these same goals and objectives.  When these human beings are well skilled, they perform well.  If these human beings lack the necessary skills to perform their functions, then goals and objectives are not achieved.

The primary function of the training department is to prepare newly hired employees to do their jobs, while building skills in existing employees to take on new responsibilities in the future.

If your company has a functioning and healthy training organization then it is helping to achieve your success.  Likewise if they are functioning poorly, lack the competencies themselves to do their jobs, then your training department is actually hurting the chances of your success!

Big Question

How do you know if training is helping or hurting?

Well I would have to ask how you determine if any department or function within your company is helping or hurting your success.  Maybe you evaluate based on goals being met.

Or possibly you are focused more on audit results, customer feedback, revenues or “No news is good news.”

I found an article today that was written by Sam Palazzolo in February of 2009 titled “Should You Fire Your Training Department?”  Even though I just read his thoughts now, these same ideas have been floating in my head for years.  Because I firmly believe that no company should be without the training function, I do believe that some people do not belong in training and do more damage than they do good.

Have You Heard…

Have you heard of Operations Management?

Wikipedia describes Operations Management with a very detailed and long-winded definition that is very correct, and yet I like the definition I heard this past week on a webinar.

They say this:

Operations Management was learning to do the same things better!

If we can support this direct definition of operations management, then we can agree that no matter how well your training department is functioning today, it can find ways to do the same things better!

Organizational Health Checkup

Agree to get healthy before starting treatment!

When it comes to discovering the health of your training department, I firmly believe that a third-party audit designed around your use of learning is the best way to uncover issues and create plans for improving the operation.  The auditors and management need to spend time before an audit to agree on the types of things to be evaluated.

A possible list could be drawn from:

  • Comparing the training plan to the company’s strategic goals
  • Evaluating the skills and competencies of the training staff
  • Evaluating the use of technologies
  • Comparing the course offering to the learning needs
  • Evaluating developmental and succession plans
  • Evaluating the learning methods used to meet generational needs
  • Comparing the training budget to the training plan
  • Evaluating the quality of the learning materials
  • Evaluating the vendor programs for contractual compliance
  • Evaluate the use of consultants and their ROI

Imagine going through the audit process with any department, coming out with a list of possible improvements, and then doing nothing with this knowledge.

Talk about a complete waste of time, resources and money!

It is fair to assume that if our goal is to “Learn how to do the same things better” then we should be able to agree that we will be making not only suggestions for improving the operation, but implementing these suggestions.  By discussing and agreeing on this ultimate path before the audit begins, all parties realize that things will be changing.

So if you were put on the spot today:

Is your training department helping or hurting your success?

If you don’t know, what are you going to do to get the answer?

Jim Hopkins
is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He is a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health

Email / LinkedIn / Website / Blog / (562) 943-5776

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WANTED: An Un-Corruptible (Servant) Leader

Corrupt Leaders

I live and work in Southern California where as of late the newspapers have been full of stories for months about corruptible city leaders that have misappropriated money, taken bribes, stolen whatever wasn’t nailed down and an assortment of other activities that were not part of their job descriptions.

In a world more closely integrated we have different ethnic groups as well as both male and female “leaders” that are exchanging their previous titles of “Mayor” and “Councilmember” for “DEFENDANT!”

I guess the good news is we are uncovering the corruption and prosecuting these fine citizens, but why is this even necessary?

Getting A Grip

High Unemployment Should Mean Something!

I sometimes think I live under a rock, but with unemploymentso high nearly everywhere, I can’t help but think this should be the time for employees to behave better than ever, if for no other reason than to keep their jobs.

I mean, being fired for embezzlement is not a sure-fire way to get unemployment compensation or move to the top of the list for your next job opportunity (once you get out of jail.)

Getting Humble

Servant Leadership is About Serving!

Those of us that practice Servant Leadership know first hand that the key to our success is to put the needs of our employees, teams, managers and clients ahead of our own needs.

The concept of public service and/or public servant should be even more aligned with the basic principles of Servant Leadership.

However, for many of the folks in my part of the country, it would seem that they are reading the flip side of the Servant Leadership book, which as we know is the Self-Serving Leader.  For those of us that train Servant Leadershipwe now have so many examples of the self-serving leader that we can paint wall murals instead of the picture example.

But that is simply the silver lining part of a very bad trend in a lot of our government leaders today.

Getting Focused

Corruptible Leaders are Everywhere, Unfortunately!

Although it is the headlines about city government that prompts this discussion, unfortunately, self-serving leaders seem to be sprouting up in all industries.

Yet whether it is government or corporate America, the trend cannot continue.

I blame the lack of quality leadership development that starts at the beginning stages of management communication skills and continues through an individual’s career with inadequate leadership development programs or none at all.  Companies are actually growing corruptible leaders because they are failing to develop un-corruptible leaders.

Getting Decisive

No Money for Training Leadership Development!

The number-one excuse for not training leadership development is a lack of budget.  My guess is the money is being saved for attorney fees, liability insurance and to cover losses from corruptible employees.

I can only imagine that annually company managers are accessing if they are budgeting enough for these categories, while at the same time they are cutting back on the preventative maintenance of a quality leadership development program.

Why has leadership development become an option?

Why has the corporate leader allowed the succession advancement of employees to continue without the right skill development?

Getting Results

WANTED: An Un-Corruptible (Servant) Leader

I read an interesting job posting a couple of weeks ago that was looking for “a real Training Manager.”  The word “real” caught my attention that this company needed a skilled professional this time.  And, having known who they were replacing I saw the connection.

So what would be the harm in posting and describing what you are looking for in your next corporate leader?  Why not just spell it out with words like Un-corruptible, Ethical, Honorable, Trustworthy etc.?

Wanted: A Servant Leader!

Jim Hopkins is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He a Consultant, Author & Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
Email | LinkedIn | Website | Blog | (562) 943-5776

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Vaccinating for the Training Virus?


“I’m so sorry to tell you this,” said the doctor to the CEO, “but your company has very little time left.  One of your departments has been underperforming for so long that I’m not sure there is anything I can do.”

Dying a Slow Death

Companies everywhere are dying a slow death because they are infected with the “Training Virus.”  This nasty bug eats away at the competencies of employees and, over time, renders them incapable of meeting or exceeding their company’s business objectives.

Without being vaccinated, a company is very susceptible to this internally produced virus.  Without treatment, the virus will eventually kill a company’s ability to exist!

On Being a Human

Every company employs a percentage of what we call in the human resource world, human beings.

These beings all start off with a skill set in varying degrees of competency and experience.  Solid recruiting and interviewing by hiring managers has allowed some organizations to hire the best talent in the market to work for their company. But to insure the best outcome for the organizations goals, additional skills must always be developed in order for this employee to continue to provide optimal production.

Enter a company’s internal training and development function –

The training development function within an organization is there to provide both immediate skill development to compensate for skills not brought to the table, as well as, future skills and competencies needed by the organization.

That is the purpose of the training function in a nutshell!

This is the bare minimum that the training function is required to provide as a return on the investment in their function.

Closing the Gap

Training personnel should be talented and possess the skills to close skill gaps as soon as they are discovered. At the same time, they should be flexible to incorporate the future needs of the organization by being proactive in planning for skills that fix performance issues as well as preventing a deficit of skills for company needs.

Organizational Health is directly tied to the health of the training function!

When a training department is unhealthy, in other words, they lack the skills, competencies, or motivation to perform their distinctive roles, then the employee population has a very difficult time achieving the knowledge and abilities they need to perform both basic and complex tasks.

Once the training department becomes ill (contracts the virus), it may not become immediately obvious to senior management.  Rarely will a training department be forthcoming with their illness for fear of reprisal, but none the less the illness remains and left untreated will get worse.


How to identify if your company has the Training Virus……

Senior Management should look for warning signs at the very minimum from this list:

  • Does the training department regularly update senior management with progress reports?
  • Does the training department regularly seek input from senior management?
  • Is training offered through different medias, formats and choices?
  • Is there a return on the investment being made in training?
  • What has training done recently that has been instrumental to the business operation?

This is a list of symptoms and much like the stuffy nose, sore throat and coughing that alerts you to the coming cold, and the headache with fever heralds the coming of the flu, nothing is for certain without a trip to the doctor.  And in the case of training, what is needed is a complete audit of the health of this function.

Why all the Drama?

Training is a misunderstood function, that is either saddled with responsibilities outside of their scope or they are not held accountable to the correct activities.  At times training can screw up so badly at one thing that it can have an impact on the business, but most of the time other factors compensate for any incompetency.

However over time, this incompetency will fester and evolve into the virus that eventually paralyzes or kills a company’s ability to function.

Focusing management on the true value and purpose of training and how it ties into the health of their organization is vital to keep a training cold from every becoming a training virus.  And even though most training departments appear to be functioning, the hard reality is most are quite sick and in need of immediate treatment.

Jim Hopkins
is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He is a Consultant, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health

EmailLinkedInWebsiteBlog | (562) 943-5776

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