Posts by Monica Wofford

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development expert and the CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc. She develops leaders, who were often managers that got promoted, but not prepared to deal with the issues of confidence in leadership. Her most requested training and coaching programs, Contagious Leadership and Contagious Confidence, have been enjoyed by managers and leaders worldwide. Her latest book, dealing with the difficult voices and the people who share them, Make Difficult People Disappear, arrives in stores in April of 2012. To learn more, email: go to, or call 1-866-0121.

Organizational Health: The Optimal Leadership Diet

Leadership Diet

As much as a well-maintained human body is more apt to produce great physical results, a well-fed and rested leader who is in great shape can sustain a healthy organization toward similar great results.

But, the recipe is not just about what they are fed.

How they are led, what is in their head, and what they do will all affect you if your leaders don’t have the optimal diet.

So what does your leader need? To “feed” on the following four essential elements.

On Leadership and Personal Energy

Part of a leader’s diet is just that: their actual diet of food, drink, and sleep. Proper care and feeding of a leader will depend on each person’s regimen.

But conditions like running on fumes, eating improperly, and consuming a Five-Hour Energy supplement or a quick “Monster” drink over one’s lunch “hour” is a rapid recipe for disaster.

This disaster is shown when the leader’s objectivity wanes, creativity crashes, and tolerance/patience remains at a point too-low to develop a bench of future successors.

However, starting with a healthy diet of taking care of one’s self, the true leader will have the energy to forge ahead and avoid a hospital bed.

Feeding Your Need to Learn

The body needs the right amounts of food, water, nutrients, fats, minerals, and more to thrive. And like this, the brain feeds on the need to learn new things in order to expand and propitiate.

Much as one might physically train the body for greater strength and flexibility, training the brain builds the skills to succeed at each level of leadership.

What works for a new leader early on may not work as well for them at they continue to climb in roles, responsibilities, and levels of leadership. The more strategic the behavior one expects of those they lead, the more they will need to develop the skills to innovate and delegate.

In other words, the more and faster you want a team member to grow, the more you will need to know in order to affect their greatest performance.

Finding the Time to Unwind

The saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” dates back several hundred years when work was less stressful.

In a time when we are always connected and virtually working around the clock, taking time to unwind is not just a nice thought, but it is now an actual requirement. This is because that the risk now is not that one might become boring or bored, but that they will be picking you up off the floor when you collapse from exhaustion.

Unfortunately, many leaders believe that they are invincible. They feel “invisible and bullet-proof.” Consequently, they feel shocked when their body send this message:

“I am done, I am shutting down.”

But as bad and insidious as this can be, a simple break that insures some rest and relaxation can easily be the prescription for a better future, A little fun or downtime will keep stress at bay and most probably will keep major problems away.

Seeing Your World in a New Light

The same routine activities day-in and day-out will cloud a leader’s objectivity and their vision. A successful and coherent leader needs clarity and an elevated sense of creativity to remain sharp and focused.

And unfortunately, clarity and focus don’t stick around when habits and routines abound.

A simple and cost-free remedy is to simply take a little time to leave the office and go for a stroll. Or, take a little time to find others in new industries down the road. Break your routine and find a new way to see certain things.

The change of pace, seeing a new face, and applying a new twist might give you just the solution you are missing.

Leading With Rhyme and Reason

Much like the rhyme that is easy to follow; a leader’s optimal diet should not take tremendous effort or be too much to swallow.

Let things flow and work in changes slow. No need to run or jump the gun in your attempt to suddenly have fun.

Instead, change your intake of food or the time you sleep; increase your efforts to learn while making some time just to burn; and seek to view the world anew so that you as a leader do a remarkable job of leading you.

Whether you are a brand new supervisory leader, a mid-level manager. or an executive whose sole goal is developing their replacement, this healthy “diet” will have a significant positive impact on both your front and bottom line, keeping your organization and you healthy.


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Monica Wofford
Monica Wofford
, CSP, is CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc.
She serves her clients by getting business results and ROI for training functions
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Office 1.866.382.0121

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Organizational Health: Curing Crippling Leadership Behaviors

Organizational health update: How to cure crippling leadership behaviors.

Poor leadership behaviors can cripple the very health of your organization and the development of your future leaders. Such crippling leadership behaviors include bullying, being a “control freak,” and letting problems go on too long.

If any of these describe you or your leaders, there are some quick methods to make sure you find a cure.

3 Methods That Work

Here are three methods for curing crippling leadership behaviors that jeopardize organizational health and the bottom-line.

“Break” the Bullies

With horses, the term “broken” describes a horse that can be ridden. The danger in breaking a horse is in squashing its spirit instead of just it’s bad habit of bucking off a rider. With leaders the risk is similar.

Most bullies, believe it or not, are simply passionate and afraid.

The passionate leadership behavior gets stronger when they feel someone stands in the way of accomplishing their goal. The fear creates stress if their insecure about how they’re seen or perceived. Both create protective measures and defenses designed to hide the fears.

Harness the passion and give them guidelines.

Tell them what behavior is okay and not okay and give strong and consistent consequences for the latter. If they refuse to change they may not be willing to be part of a team and may not be a good fit for your organization.

L2L Discussion Please Vote

Keep Calm

It’s the leadership behavior of worry that creates the stress that ignites the control and makes them seem difficult and overly bold.

Control freaks worry:

  • They worry others won’t get things done.
  • They worry others won’t do it right.
  • They worry what others will think if they don’t get it right or do well enough.

Reassuring them might not work, but keeping your cool will help you. Then help them to find and use all the right tools and help by surrounding them with incredibly calm and talented co-workers like you.

Hold Leaders Accountable

Any human being, in the absence of consequences or rewards, will do whatever is easiest.

Leaders, managers, and supervisors are no different.

If there are no consequences for never finding the time to address a team problem or problem employee, this leader will quickly earn a reputation for being a pushover. The high performing employees will start to leave and the problem team members will see they have free rein to do as they please.

Find a way to instill a rapid response to the leader who refuses to address issues. Maybe his bonus is impacted, her review score reduced, his promotion delayed, or her team vacancies are frozen. A lack of action must result in a lack of reward in order to initiate accountability.

Healthy organizations tend to experience healthy profits even in tough times, but it’s the leadership behaviors that can make or break that bottom line.

So what type of methods have you seen being successful to stop crippling leadership behaviors? Have you had a “knucklehearted” boss that just didn’t seem “to get it?” What did you do about it? Are your leadership behaviors crippling the health of your organization? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Monica Wofford
Monica Wofford
, CSP, is CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc.
She serves her clients by getting business results and ROI for training functions
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Office 1.866.382.0121

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Leading in HR: The Power of a Professional Conduct Policy

Professional Code of Conduct

There’s not much in the way of employee behavior that would surprise an experienced Human Resource Manager.

What is far more surprising is the amount of time a leader will put up with behavior that makes them need HR in the first place.

At times, it’s the policies in place that prevent any other viable option. However, there is one policy that will keep you more out of HR than in it.

Addressing Workplace Issues

In most companies a policy exists for everything from punctuality to the use of profanity. The Federal Government even dictates break times to maternity leave. With all clear policies, measurement of performance and termination is made easy and they usually started as merely good guidelines.

When guidelines are not made into policies and clear guidelines don’t exist, managing performance is a real problem.

Managing the attitude about the problem is even worse.

In fact, the number one problem new leaders seem to face is how to address those subtle challenges such as:

  • Attitude
  • “Milking the system”
  • Doing just enough to stay employed
  • Gossiping
  • Backstabbing
  • “Stirring the pot”
  • Or even “quitting,” but forgetting to tell anyone…

Professionalism, Defined.

Address those subtle or not-so-subtle issues with what is called a Professional Conduct Policy. Enumerate how one would successfully conduct themselves on the team you lead or in the office you manage.

Perhaps it will not be the policy that, when broken, is a key firing factor, but it sure beats assuming they know how to behave based on the guidelines you live by that usually remain in your head.

Creating a Professional Conduct Policy

Here is what the mere creation of a Professional Conduct Policy can do for you and the team and their performance.

Allows for Low-Level Intervention

This is a term used in training classes that refers to participants managing each other. For example when two people are talking while the instructor talks and another student “shushes” them, you’ve just seen Low-Level Intervention.

The instructor didn’t have to say a word.

The same will happen on the team you lead when you invite all to participate in the creation of the Professional Conduct Policies. Spend a staff meeting coming up with these “rules” or “housekeeping guidelines” or “Rules that Guide our Behavior with Each Other and our Customers.

What you call it is not as important as the discussion that will occur when you are creating the list. Magical dynamics are when colleagues all mutually agree on the “rules.” As none of us argue with our own data, so to speak, allowing each team member to have input will help them to own the rules.

The rules they own will be ones they agree to and want to abide by and will thus, defend, when others break the rules. You may create situations in which fellow employees begin to manage each other to some extent and thus, take some of that burden off of the leader.

This doesn’t mean you get to now be “hands off”, but it will be a nice benefit of having spent the time to make the list of behaviors.

Provides a Metric for Behavior

When given the choices of attitude, behavior, or performance problems, participants in our leadership training courses repeatedly rank attitude problems as the most challenging to resolve and address. These are followed closely by behavior issues that are not tied to some quota or performance review objective.

The reason for both being more difficult than performance is that neither is readily measurable by the average company.

Most managers assume far too much of the way others will behave. Then the managers are  surprised when someone acts unethically or has lesser initiative or has no issue at all with showing up to the meetings but doing nothing in the way of making progress on a team project.

These are each behaviors that can be part of the Professional Conduct Policy. For example, look at these:

  • Always do your best
  • Follow up within 24 hours
  • Make ten minutes early your “on time” mark
  • Maintain confidentiality of anything that could be considered gossip

Once they’re written down, they become measurable.

Provides Clarity in Coaching

If a leader wants to address a behavior not listed on that team member’s performance review, and there are no consequences for the behavior, other than talking with the boss, little change occurs.

With a Professional Conduct Policy, created by their peers, coaching to the policy can now include the consequence of letting down their peers. It also gives you a reference point in history when they agreed to abide by the behaviors listed.

Not only are you able to be clear about which policy has been “broken”, but you now have precedent, previous conversations, and a frame of reference from which to coach for improvement.

Asking questions like:

“Was this not something you really agreed with when we came up with these in our meeting?”

“Is there something that has caused you to change your mind on the importance of this behavior to our work?”

will help you get to the heart of the matter.

Any of this kind of detail is more effective in a coaching scenario than the leader saying “Would you just cut it out?”, which is what happens when one doesn’t have much to go on.

Moving Beyond Policy

Once you create it, consider hanging your Professional Conduct Policy next to the Mission Statement and Values Declaration. Just remember that much like those other documents, the work that it took to create them is far more valuable than the space they take up on the wall.

And if all you want is for people to look at the list, the last thing on your list needs to say “buy frame.” If you want them to actually abide by these guidelines, “buy frame” gets delegated and your first two “to-dos” are coach them when they don’t and reward them when they do.

So, do you have clear, concise, and open access to a professional code of conduct policy booklet? Or is your just informal and not well documented? When issues arrive, is your policy guidelines booklet referenced properly and professionally, or does your management team need training in this arena? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Monica Wofford
Monica Wofford
, CSP, is CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc.
She serves her clients by getting business results and ROI for training functions
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Office 1.866.382.0121

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Related articles

5 Unlikely Tools For Your Leadership Bag

Sticky Note Leadership

We proverbially “pack a bag” when we lead others. But what you pack in your bag makes more of an impact than you think.

And some of these tools just might not be the first things you think of…

Typical Tools

Usually the tools that one thinks a leader pack for their leadership journey are things like their

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Processes
  • Experience
  • Expertise

Of course, mistaken outsiders might even think that leaders should bring things like

  • Accolades
  • Awards
  • Recognition
  • Status
  • Prestige
  • Power
  • Influence
  • and Control

on their leadership trip. 

But whether or not these items are appropriate for a leader to take with them on their mission, they all are certainly predictable. Take a quick look at some of the unlikely tools that SHOULD definitely make it into any leader’s go-bag.

In fact, these should probably be kept in an outside pocket for quick access and use!

5 Unlikely Tools For Your Leadership Bag

Your Sticky Notes

Use these for the things that you want to stick. More of a symbol than paper with a purpose, let sticky notes remind you to reduce your expectations to just those few words that fit on a mini-note. Make your message one that stands out and sticks like these do not only on their computer or wall, but to how they behave overall.

Your Pom-Poms

Perhaps these simply sit on your desk as a reminder to point out when employees are at their best. Some will need the excitement that pom-poms bring and others will simply need you to quietly say thanks when they do great things.

Your Megaphone

You’re not going to do a cheer, but nor are you striking fear by yelling in this cone or using that “manager tone”. Your megaphone can sit in the corner, but let it be your reminder that what you don’t say, they can’t hear or understand and telepathy is highly overrated.

Your Mute Button

Sometimes you’ve said enough and no amount of further explanation will change what they think. In those times, hit the mute button and take the time to listen.

As is said in Contagious Leadership:

“Those you lead are closer to the problem than you are” and have valuable data to share that you want to hear.

Your Bench

In your office or on the field, figuratively or physically built, you need a bench to remind you of many things. Sometimes it serves as a place to share and be the guide on the side. Sometimes it’s a reminder of the team on which you take pride. And finally, it’s a symbol, as the strength of your bench is about the team you develop.

Your leadership “tool kit” contains a wide array of things, but sometimes it’s the small symbols and reminders that keep you sharp. They help you to remember it’s PEOPLE you lead even when things are moving at high-speed and your list is far longer than the time you need.


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Monica Wofford
Monica Wofford
, CSP, is CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc.
She serves her clients by getting business results and ROI for training functions
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Office 1.866.382.0121

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5 Reasons to Listen to Your Least Favorite Team Members

Weak Link

If you’re tuning out employees that drive you crazy, you may be missing more than you think.

You might not like them or what they’re saying, but paying attention could prove valuable for you and your team.

5 Reasons to Listen Up

Here are 5 reasons to listen to those who might not be your favorite on your team.

1) They’re telling you the tough stuff

There are whiners and then there are the ones trying to help you be a real winner. Effective leaders know the difference and can ferret out a faker. However, be careful.

Assuming that team member is a whiner when they’re the only one willing to tell you the tough stuff, may leave you in a tough spot…all alone.

2) They see what others are missing

Some think and analyze all aspects and might be more detail oriented than you’d like, but would you really take the time they do, to review? A linear focus on “getting it right” means they’re gifted at seeing all the ways you may have it wrong.

When they tell you about it, they’re simply trying to help you see what’s missing…not criticize how you put the plan together.

3) They’re willing to point it out

No one wants their mistakes made public and the ones who point them out risk taking the blame. Give them some credit for speaking up as the ones who keep quiet may tell you later, but that’s usually too little too late.

Pay attention to the ones who fail to go with the flow to keep you in the know.

4) They’re willing to risk popularity

Anyone willing to forsake what others might think of him to speak up and tell the less popular news, is worth listening to, if for no other reason than that’s not an easy stance to take. Even if you don’t like their opinion and others downplay their message, you may find great value if you simply admire their courage.

5) They’re differences don’t make them difficult

In Make Difficult People Disappear you learn difficult people are often labeled as such by those vastly different from them. Thus, your least favorite team member is likely the one with whom you share the least, you’re not like at all and you don’t understand.

That gives them a different angle, a new view of the same issue, and a perspective worthy of review. That may also mean they see the solution faster than those just like you.

Learning Something New

The most effective leaders surround themselves with people smarter than they are. They also avoid picking a team of clones with only one opinion.

As such, there are times when all will not get along.

Like them or not, work with them you do and sometimes that means they see you as least favorite, too. They key for you both is to learn something new from the differences that come through.


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Monica Wofford
Monica Wofford
, CSP, is CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc.
She serves her clients by getting business results and ROI for training functions
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Office 1.866.382.0121

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Leaders: 6 Magic Moments Employees Want with The Boss

Magic Momment

There are a multitude of things on your list and it looks like most, “spend time with team members” is likely not recorded.

The team members you have the privilege of leading are craving time with you and in fact, they want in six different ways that if you can provide, would be seen as magical moments that might produce even more magical results.

1) Tell Them What They’re Doing Well

Feedback comes in all forms and the one they want most is focused on what they’re doing well.

Take the time to praise them for even the smallest improvements. People do that for which they are paid attention. If your goal as the leader is to have them repeat behavior worthy of praise, positively reinforce that which you want repeated.

2) Tell Them Where They Need to Grow

Team members crave direction from the person in the role to which they aspire.

If you have an ambitious group of over achievers, they want to know where they can grow and what actions they need to put in place to achieve greater results.

3) Give Them Guidance on Their Career

Your direction to team members needs not be isolated to those who seek upward mobility.

Not all team members will want to climb the ladder. Some prefer lateral moves or need your guidance in finding the role to which their talents and skills are best suited. Helping them find the roles that make the most of their skills will provide you with a team of highly productive people.

4) Give Them a Challenge to Act On

Some team members desire direction, while others want a challenge to act on right away.

Give the ones who get it done a challenge that will stretch their abilities and give them new skills. The increase in growth and talents from which to choose will elevate the performance and results of the entire team.

5) Spend Time Listening to What’s Broken

The rumor mill is filled with the truth of what’s not working. Take the time to listen.

Poll those you trust on what’s most broken and make every effort to get it resolved. Those on the front line know more about the barriers to their success than the leader, simply by virtue of doing the job everyday. Help them overcome and they will help you by not letting your numbers be outdone.

6) Spend Time Connecting

Leaders and employees alike spend more time at work than with their families.

It is often a place of “to-do’s” and “don’ts” and lacks the connections humans crave. Not every moment or meeting needs to be about what to do next and there is value in spending the time getting to know those who do the work.

Without these moments, employees began to find their own path. The leader is charged with creating that path and keeping team members on it. If you fail to spend these magical moments with them, you’ll begin to wonder where the magic went and why it’s so difficult to meet your goals. Make the magic happen again with these simple steps.

So, are you spending the time and effort with your individual team members to help, them learn, grow, and become better in what they do? Are you actually listening, or just talking most of the time? How can you adopt these six easy steps to help recalibrate your team’s results? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Monica Wofford
Monica Wofford
, CSP, is CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc.
She serves her clients by getting business results and ROI for training functions
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Office 1.866.382.0121


Leaders: 7 Signs Your Confidence is Fading

Lack of Confidence

Few are willing to discuss the very element that can quickly cripple a leader: Confidence.

Whether it’s in the new leader who pretends to know it all, or the leader who has done the job since the invention of dirt, the outcome ususally is the same.

Too little or too much confidence can keep a leader from leading others well.

In fact, as heard in Contagious Confidence, true leadership is the ability to be oneself, then lead one’s self, before earning the right to lead others.

On Confidence and Authenticity

Being oneself requires having the confidence to be authentic.

Leading oneself requires monitoring one’s own confidence and both are required to effectively lead those looking to follow.

Confidence is a key element in personal development and the best leaders make sure they develop it so it never gets in their way.

7 Signs Your Confidence is Fading

Here are seven ways to make sure confidence enhances, instead of prevents, leadership efforts.

1) Focused on Favorite on the Playground

One with a diminished sense of confidence about who they are and the skills or value they bring to a team may show signs of wanting everyone to like him. The reality is not everyone will like the leader, but everyone needs to respect the leader.

However, when a leader’s focus is on being the favorite person on the playground so that they feel better about themselves, it will impact their decisions of hiring, firing, promotion, discipline, and project assignments.

Strive not to be the favorite, but favored when real leadership is needed.

2) Taking Things Personally

Every human being has good days and bad days and on the days when things are bad, unintended emotions, stress, or reactions might surface.

One with low-levels of confidence will personalize these outbursts or temporary states of behavior and allow it to impact beliefs, long term perceptions and relationships in the future.

Taking things personally is only appropriate when things are personal and an employee’s stressed out reaction to a bit of feedback from the leader, for example, is usually not about the leader, but the employees concern about the meaning of the feedback.

3) Getting Defensive

If an employee asks a question and a leader interprets the seeking of additional information to indicate a questioning of judgment and reacts as if that were fact, confidence is an issue.

Effective leaders ask, think, and perhaps even process information before getting defensive.

They also possess a level of confidence that shields against concern over what others think when asking “why”.

4) The Fear Factor

New leaders in particular often feel as if they must know everything in order to lead well. If this feeling persists, and no contrary guidance is provided, the first time something comes up that they don’t know, so will the fear of looking foolish.

That fear has turned into covering up, making stuff up, and generally mucking up the success of many a company. The fear factor is expensive and all due to a lack of confidence.

Banish the fear and become okay with saying “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

5) Reacting in Response

Stress, fear, and a lack of confidence can cause a leader to react instead of respond. Whether it’s a tough question, an accusation, or a bit of feedback that creates the need to respond, a reaction will come about if there’s a need to show anger or exert power.

If those needs exist, there might be a lack of confidence and signs of several issues.

6) Quick to Hire, Slow to Fire

Similar to the need to be the favorite person on the playground, hanging on to an employee who is long overdue for release is detrimental to the team and the organization.

Those high performers will resent a leader’s indecision to release a drag on the team.

Those who are dragging behind or keeping others from excelling will learn their position is safe due to inaction and continue to move as slowly as they can get away with until told otherwise.

Confident leaders reverse the order and fire fast, while hiring slowly.

7) Too Much Letting Go

While a lack of confidence causes problems, there is also the need to point out the effect of overconfidence as the pendulum doth swing both ways. If a leader over delegates, lets go of too much and generally takes a hands off approach to leading the team, he may be a bit overconfident in his abilities or theirs and secure in the idea of knowing all that is needed.

This is okay occasionally, but a problem of stagnation if consistently allowed to continue.

Getting More Confidence

Confidence is a concept that is given less emphasis in leadership than perhaps it deserves. While it is assumed that once one secures a title, one should have the confidence to fill the role, this is often not the case and if what is written here is showing up at the office, there is a need for more confidence for the leaders.


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Monica Wofford 
is CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc.
She serves her clients by getting business results and ROI for training functions
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Office 1.866.382.0121

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