A Recipe For Failure: Focusing On Success

Great Recipe

When cooking food, a little too much or too little of an ingredient can ruin a dish. So if you are cooking from a great recipe, it is vital to focus on every aspect of building that recipe in a way that will yield success.

Great meals don’t come from great recipes; they come from great execution of a great recipe.

Great Recipes Do Not Equal Great Results

At first, I couldn’t understand how someone could have a great recipe for a great meal but still not be able to produce a great meal. With that reasoning, everyone should be master chefs (and we know that’s not the case). I have come to realize in my ignorance and oversimplification of cooking that the problem lies not so much in the recipe as it does in the placement of focus.

Let me explain, great chefs have great focus and an innate ability to place focus on the right things at the right time. A masterful meal is the byproduct of placing great focus on the details and the processes. The reason many fail at making great meals is because they are focusing too much on… making great meals.

Notice Your Focus

As a youth football player I tried being a kicker (kickers are cool in little league). I couldn’t make the cut and had to settle for a skill position. Who knew playing a position other than kicker could be a demotion! The reason I kept failing as a kicker was because I was focusing too much on trying to make successful kicks rather than the actual process of kicking.

Q: So what does a successful kicker, cook, and company have in common (if only “kicker” was spelled with a “c,” my alliteration would be classic)?

A: The answer is, they all do well when they focus on the details and not the results.

They don’t focus on success because they recognize you can’t place focus on results; you place the focus on the details and processes it takes to produce results. Great kickers have an incredible ability to avoid the temptation of wanting to look up and see if their kick in going to be a successful kick or not.

Similarly when it comes to organizations, I have seen where leaders really wanted to be successful but were not able to stay focused on the details and processes it took to produce success.

Recipe for Disaster

Here are a few examples of how recipes for success can come up short:

1. Missing Ingredients

A team wants to be successful, yet no one brings the focus down to the real issues that preventing or hindering its success. Take the time to find what’s missing; could very well be the key ingredient to your success.

2. Half-Baked Plans

An example of a half-baked plan would be having a long-term strategy that you abandon when the early results are not what you hoped for. If this is a long-term process, then stop assessing it by short-term indicators.

Indicators are important, but they are not results.

That’s like pulling the chicken out the oven half-baked and tossing it in the trash because it’s taste was not what you had hoped for. News flash, don’t expect half-baked chicken to taste like anything other that half-baked chicken! You don’t pull out half-baked chicken to taste it, you pull it out to see if it’s cooking according to plan.

Leaders can feel the pressure to show immediate returns on their work that they fall into taste testing their approach and not merely assessing it. This can lead to constant abandoning of incomplete plans and approaches. This can also lead to high turnover and instability within an organization or group. Be sure to keep checking on you plan, just remember that it’s still not finished yet.

3. Wannabe Master Chefs

Don’t try to get creative until you’ve mastered the basics.  People often view creativity as if it is the opposite of order and discipline. Creativity should actually be an expression of high level mastery of the fundamentals. Many try to go out and start with this new creative, out of the box approach only to fall well short of all expectations. Before we become creative, let become competent. Once you’ve mastered your understanding you can begin to apply it in unique, and innovative ways.

What’s your recipe for success? Once you have your unique ingredients, turn your attention to the details and process of following your plan, strategy, or approach. This will help you have the success you’re looking for. My wife (who’s a wonderful cook) at times would ask me how I would make such wonderful dishes on the rare occasions that I do cook? My reply is usually the same,  “I followed the directions from the recipe, Sweetie.”


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Dr. Tommy Shavers

Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
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Leaders: Do You Equip Your Board for Success?

Equipping For Success

We admire pioneers who are not afraid to blaze the trail of success, create their own blueprint for progress, and forge through adversity to breakthrough barriers.

However, nine times out of ten, they have not shared their success with others.

According to John C. Maxwell, nothing of significance that adds value to people’s lives is ever achieved by an individual acting alone (2010).

So Now What?

Recall the people you know who have achieved noteworthy success. Who did they equip to help them achieve their success?

Take a look at a success story. Jennifer Wenzke is the leader and the founder of So Now Network. So Now is a dynamic alliance of “Professional and Executive Women Striving to Empower others to Unite and Raise Up into their Unique Greatness!”

When leaders found organizations, sometimes the ideas are vivid but the name of the organization is not. That’s what happened to Wenzke. Her organization “So Now” was actually born without a name. Wenzke thought it would be a good idea to gather a group of women together at a local country club to network, connect, have fun and generally to help each other.  At the end of the event, she said,

“Thanks for coming!”  The reply back from attendees was, “Wait, can’t we do this again?”

To name her new-found group, Wenzke chose the name of the facility Stone Oak. She called her little group Stone Oak Network of Women.

But that name seemed too long, so she simply made an acronym of that name and changed it to So Now.

Growing Influence And Challenges

As the first anniversary of the group’s founding approached, Wenzke challenged those in attendance (35-40) to bring at least 100 women to the event. She equipped them with a challenging goal. And the result; over 180 women showed up!

As a leader,Wenzke knows the importance of equipping her women with challenges. She continues to equip the women as the network grows.

Here are a few highlights and results of the equipment(s) of the women of So Now:

  • During year-one, the network successfully implemented two projects.
  • Year 2 saw the release of a mentoring program.
  • In year 3, the network started growing rapidly.

o   The announcement of a scholarship program was introduced

o   So Now for Men (Snow Men) started

o   So Now expanded to include lunchtime meetings

o   So Now formed a Board of Inspiration

This is one example of how she implements equipping.

Equipping For Success

All great leaders have great teams that are equipped for success. But what happens when you are a new leader who is unknown?

“Does this mean that if you have a team that does not know you; or you have a flailing team, that you cannot equip your team for success?”

No it doesn’t! In 2007, I was the newly elected president of Sigma Alpha Pi (SAP), for the local chapter of the National Society of Leadership & Success. I had never held a position of this magnitude before.

I knew one person on the team and for the exception of that one person, no one else knew me. Because I was so passionate about SAP, what SAP represented, I knew I wanted to make a difference for the organization’s betterment.

But, where was I to start?

I started with my team. I knew one thing for sure, if I equipped the team for success, they in turn would want to carry out the organizations mission and vision.

Did I know how to equip this team for success? No, but it didn‘t take me long to figure it out. The team was already in place therefore, I made a commitment to myself and to each person, to get to know them.

As a result, I got to know every team member personally. We matched every person and their unique attributes to roles and responsibilities that would enhance overall success. Then, each person made a personal commitment to invest his or her talents in SAP.

Be Wise, Recognize

Another important equipping tool is recognition. Recognition is very important to everyone, and it is a powerful tool for leaders to use. SAP would not have reached a level of success that year if it had not been for this amazing team! Therefore, I recognized every Board member for his or her personal attributes and contributions.

SAP measured their success by the goals they accomplished:

  • Increased membership
  • One hundred percent participation in leadership training
  • Choosing a community organization to make a donation.

At the end of my term as president, the SAP team was equipped to carry its legacy forward.

Leaders, are you dedicated to equipping your Board? Is your Board equipped to handle the charge of responsibility?  Is your Board equipped to meet challenges with courage and creativity? I would love to hear your comments.


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Debra Olejownik
Debra Olejownik is a consultant with DJC Core Consulting, LLC
She helps clients identify comprehensive solutions to problems that inspires change
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I’m a Leader Now But No One Likes Me


What too many people fail to grasp is that one doesn’t become a leader overnight.  You may have the title, but that’s not all it takes to be successful.  To become a good leader takes some planning and experience.

Have you ever felt like this:

“I was “one of them” on Friday, but since I’m their supervisor now, no one likes me.  Why?”

You probably made the jump too suddenly.

Learning Leadership

When people tell me they want to be a leader in their organization or I hear that someone is being looked at to fill an upcoming position, the first thing I tell them is to start the transition NOW.  Plan and learn.

Don’t wait to make a sudden change over a weekend, because you’ll set yourself up for disaster.

Two Lessons on Leadership

Here are a couple of stories to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Story One

Mike has been one of the guys since he started at ABC Company.  He knows his job well, and that of the department, but really only does what’s required.  He watches the clock, is always yucking it up with everyone, and hits the bars every Friday afternoon having drinks with the best of them.

But behind all of that, Mike does think about moving up and his managers believe he has some good leadership potential.  A supervisor position is getting ready to open up in 2 weeks and Mike is offered the job.  That means more money, control and responsibility.  He says he’s up for the challenge.

Mike does nothing to prepare, thinking he’ll learn what he needs to know once he starts.  He continues his ways and on Friday Mike goes out with the gang and pounds shots.  On Monday morning, Mike is a straight-laced, all business, suit, barking orders around every corner.  What do you think the reaction of his staff is to this new look?  “What the h*ll happened to you?”  Is his staff ready to work for/with him?  I don’t think so Tim.

From then on, Mike is in an uphill battle to get respect and support.

Story Two

Patty, on the hand, knew she wanted to be a leader within the ABC Company someday.  Everyone likes her and although she’s also one of the guys, she never goes overboard.

She has fun, but within limits.

Patty, like Mike, knows her job and the department well.  But unlike Mike, she asks questions and tries to understand the business as much as she can.  She also reads leadership blogs online (i.e., Linked2Leadership) and participates in leadership type webinars.  The people she works with know where she’s headed some day.  So it comes as no surprise that when a leadership position opens in her department, she’s offered the job and accepts.

She immediately asks for time during the next two weeks to meet with experienced leaders to discuss her new position and to ask questions.  At the same time Patty discusses how this new position is going to alter her relationships with her,

  • old peers/new team,
  • new peers/other leaders,
  • old/new boss, and
  • . . . family.

How do you think Patty’s transition goes, compared to Mike’s?  I see much success in Patty’s future.

Leadership and Family

When I talk to people about changing relationships, many don’t immediately understand how there’s a change with family.  After all, work and family are two separate things.  Well, not exactly.  Even though we like to keep the two separate, they’re pretty well intertwined.  The added responsibility of being a leader is going to cause more stress, working more hours, and possibly travel, among other things.

Your future is also your family’s future.

Don’t get caught up just looking at the job itself.  It’s going to affect other people besides you.  The better prepared they are, the less stress it will cause.

It’s never too late to learn and plan for the future.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an up and comer, or you’re a director, or even a CEO.  Learning should be a lifelong endeavor.

When we stop learning, we stop growing.

The two books I always recommend to people when they’re starting out in their first leadership role are:

These books are not only good for new leaders but also serve as great reminders and inspiration – and some new info – for the seasoned leader.

It takes little effort, or time, to read a couple of blogs or books here and there.  Then be sure to share that new found information with the people coming up underneath you.  Remember, some of those people are going to be in your position some day.

Have you planned your future?  Do you discuss your future with your family?  Are you investing in continued learning?  Are you helping others succeed?


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Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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Middle School Leadership Lesson: I DARE YOU TO FAIL!

Dare to Fail

Often times, we spend so much energy on trying to not fail, that we fail at everything.

Middle School Leadership Lesson

I was watching a basketball coach work with some 7th grade boys.  This team was brand new to the sport and lacked many of the needed skills to succeed at playing basketball.  On top of that, due to the awkward stages of their current development, risks and challenges were even more daunting.

As I watched the coach, his words of encouragement really struck me.  He watched one student particularly.  This student would shy away from the ball and would not attempt to make any type of rebound when he was near it.

The coach asked the young player why he was afraid of the ball.

The boy looked at the coach and simply stated:

“Coach, I am not afraid of the ball, I just don’t want to mess up.”

The coach’s response was even more enlightening than the boy’s. The coach responded by telling the 7th grader this:

“…you will never truly know what you are capable of achieving because you’re not putting yourself out there. If you never try, you will never learn or grow your craft.  I’d much rather you try and make a mistake that teaches you, than for you to not try at all and never learn anything or ever improve your playing skills.

When you don’t try at all, you are not only selling yourself short, you are affecting your entire team, who is depending on your efforts to drive our team towards the goal of winning.  You are either all in, or let me know so we can find a player who is.”

Taking It to the Goal

I watched as the boy cautiously trotted up, attempted a lay-up, made it, smiled and went back to his spot in line, waiting for his next turn with the ball.  But, the boy went back to the line changed.  He was no longer worried about and overly focused on NOT making a mistake.

He was now focused on repeating the “good” and learning from his mistakes.

Our world rarely acknowledges or celebrates failures.  We very rarely make reference in our history books or great speeches about people’s failures.  However, people often forget that very few times is success immediately attained.

If we spent as much time trying to learn from our lack of successes and what must change the next time, we would truly see a new definition of “success.”

A Bright Idea: Persistence

Think about the famous Thomas Edison.  Where would our world be without his inventions?  If he just tried one or two times and then gave up, we would be in a world of dark; pun intended.  It was documented that Edison stated he tried 10,000 times before he was finally successful in creating the light bulb.

When Thomas Edison was interviewed by a young reporter who boldly asked Mr. Edison if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up by now. Perplexed, Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” And shortly after that, and over 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the light bulb. Source

Unlike Edison, most of us fear failure and avoid it at all cost. Often times, we truly never realize or reach our personal and maximum potential because the fear of failure kidnaps our efforts before we even try. We spend so much time trying to hide or deny our mistakes out of fear and pride; we very often fail to learn from our failures.

Root of the Issue

As a middle school principal, I often remind my teachers, students, and parents, much of the learning our students need to experience is not in writing down the “right answer,” it’s the steps the students must take in order to get to the right answer.

If you spend any time analyzing data-school, sales, trends, etc.-you will spend a great deal of time analyzing what went wrong; but, yet, very little time on what caused it to go wrong.  Why? Often in the business world, we see many leaders, teams, and employees who never reach their personal and maximum potential because they are scared of making a mistake.

“We have too much at stake to lose,” is often the thought for the day.  However, I challenge you with this…we have too much at stake to NOT make a mistake and learn from those mistakes.  Often, what we learn from making the mistake not only teaches us about that particular contextual learning, but it transfers over to so many other areas of our lives-both professional and personal.

Recalibrated Thinking

Failure is not an option.

NASA flight controller Jerry C. Bostick reportedly stated during the mission to bring the damaged Apollo 13 back to Earth, and we have heard that phrase in the education and business world ever since. I challenge Mr. Bostick.  Failure should be an option; so long as we spend our time and efforts learning through and from them.


If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake? Which is worse, failing or never trying? Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first? Has your greatest fear ever come true? If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose? Do you ask enough questions?  Or do you settle for what you think you know?


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Brian Dawson
Brian Dawson, M. Ed. is a Middle School Principal and Independent Consultant
He serves with Educational Restructure, Transformation, and Systems Specialist
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Leaders: How to Set Expectations For Success


Leaders: People will perform up to your expectations – set your expectations at your team’s full potential, then help them succeed.

Names Effect Enthusiasm

Sports teams select names that are meant to encourage the team to succeed and inspire the fans to cheer.

Some professional teams have names that represent action like:

  • The San Diego Chargers
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Chicago Bulls

Other teams have names that celebrate their towns like:

  • The New England Patriots
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Montreal Canadians

Can you imagine sports teams with a name like: “The Fumblers” or “The Strike-Outs” or “The Penalty Box?” Of course not.

Naming People

Similarly, no person should be named in a way that limits their opportunity to achieve success like: “Advanced as far as they can” or “Not smart enough” or “Not leadership material.”

Maybe that person’s strengths are better used in another role that will free them to shine.

Successful Leaders don’t limit growth, they help people discover and develop their strengths.

German author and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said:

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

The level of enthusiasm of your team, and of you as the leader of the team, will be positively influenced by having a positive image of each member of your team.

Names Influence Effort

Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson performed an experiment in 1966 known as The Pygmalion Effect, which tested the effect of teacher expectations on student performance.  Teachers across 1st through 6th grades were told that certain students were expected to perform at a very high level in the coming year.

Rosenthal and Jacobson then randomly assigned students to randomly selected teachers and gave the names of the students to the teachers.

At the end of the school year, this randomly selected group of students achieved markedly higher gains in IQ scores than the rest of the students.  Why?  Because the teachers expected these students to be successful and worked hard to make sure they were.

People will achieve up to the limit of their expectations.

James Rhem, the executive editor for the online National Teaching and Learning Forum, said:

“When teachers expect students to do well and show intellectual growth, they do; when teachers do not have such expectations, performance and growth are not so encouraged and may in fact be discouraged in a variety of ways.”

Leaders have to expect that each of their team members will succeed, then work hard to make sure that happens.

Names Should Fit The Role

Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish Nation, was once known as “Abram” which means “Exalted Father.”  At that time he had one son, Ishmael, and he was near 100 years old.  God appeared to Abram and told him that his descendants would number more than the stars.  From that point forward he would be called “Abraham” which means “Father of Many Nations.”

Marion Morrison used the stage name John Wayne because he wanted to be a rugged movie star.

What’s In a Name

Theodor Seuss Geisel began signing the name Seuss to his work in his college’s humor magazine.  The correct pronunciation of Seuss is “Soyce” but it was mispronounced “Suss” which sounded like “Goose” as in the nursery rhymes.  That was fine to Theodor who intended to use his pen name for his humorous work anyway and save his real name for a future serious project.

The “Dr.” was added to his first published book in honor of his father who wanted Theodore to be a doctor.

From this day forward, every member of your team should be named “Successful,” in the specific role they have been assigned.  The definition of success may be different in each role.

Your job as the leader is to help define success for each person and assist them in accomplishing up to their new name – Successful.

From the inspirational diary of Anne Frank comes this truth:

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news.  The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

What name have you given to your team, and to each member of your team?  Do you believe that they can be successful?  Have you limited the growth of your team by naming them “Unable to succeed?”  Your expectations of your team will drive their performance.


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Denis McLaughlin
Denis McLaughlin is President of Leadership GPS, Inc.
He is a Leadership Development Expert, Coach, Teacher, Speaker, and Writer
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Change Leaders Don’t Need Titles

Bigger Picture

Change is vital to growth and expansion.  It gives organizations a competitive edge and gives employees a spark of energy.  We must have change in order to grow.

Whether you may like it or not, change is a normal part of any successful business.

With or Without You

Why not help lead that change?  Change will happen with or without you.  And if the rate of change exceeds your own rate of change, you’re going to have some real problems.

You don’t need a title to be a change leader.  In fact, you don’t need a title to be any kind of leader.

It just takes special people – who want to lead.

Grabbing the Reins

To have success in a merger, for instance, requires flexibility and adaptability.  And if you can grab the reins and act as a change leader yourself, you’ll be personally helping in leading the organization to great achievements.

With change normally comes resistance.  In order to lead change you need to know just what kinds of resistance there are.   Here are just a few, listed in “Individual Resistance from Employees to Organizational Change”, by Dr. Chuang,Yuh-Shy:

  • Personal loss.  Right or wrong, people are afraid they’ll lose something, particularly job security and pay.
  • Loss of pride and satisfaction.  A concern about ending up with jobs that no longer require their abilities and skills.
  • Reduced responsibility.  Jobs will be reduced to menial tasks without responsibility.
  • Loss of status.  Loss of job titles, responsibility, or authority.

But on the other hand, there are probably more positive things to think about than negative.  Yuh-Shy lists things such as:

  • Personal gain.  New job titles, more responsibility, more money, and more authority.
  • More security.  Greater job security because of the need for increased skills.  Possible salary increases.
  • More status/prestige.  Possibly a new title or new office.
  • More responsibility or authority.  Maybe new responsibility or a new supervisor who assigns more responsibility than the previous one did.  This could lead to future promotions.

People Love Change

You know, if you really think about it, people actually love change.  People constantly pursue promotions and new job responsibilities; buy personal development books and start their own businesses.  They change careers, jobs, and even organizations – all in the name of change.

People love change – they just hate having to be forced to change.

You can help guide change no matter where you fall in the organizational chart.  Being a change leader can put you in the position of being someone who has greater career potential.   Christina Tangora Schlachter and Terry Hildebrandt, authors of “Leading Business Change For Dummies” say that you can begin to spark positive change by doing one simple thing . . . becoming proactive.

How to Become Proactive

Learn to live with uncertainty

There will usually be uncertainty during change.  Maybe managers haven’t answered all your questions – because not all of the details have been worked out.  They may also have legal reasons for not releasing information.

So sometimes it’s in your best interest to just roll with it. However, if you feel that uncertainty is disturbing your work area, ask questions and let your manager know the impact.

Change what YOU can change: Yourself

Leaders can sometimes make things more confusing than not.  If you’re not in a position to formally influence the change, take the opportunity to change your own attitude and behaviors.

Influence what you CAN’T change: Others

Even if you’re not the one in charge, you can still influence the direction of the change.  And your position of being “one of the guys” could even give your opinions a boost with your coworkers.

Cultivating an atmosphere of openness among your coworkers will help you influence change, because knowing others’ motivations and interests will help you to explain how the changes will meet their needs.

Help others cope with change

Even if you’re excited about change, not everyone is.  Some may find it to be extremely tough, feeling confused or angry.  You can help them make the transition easier by being on the lookout for signals that someone needs help coping – absenteeism, depression, argumentative.

BELIEVE in the change and speak up

 As soon as change starts happening, start talking it up – how great it will be.  Talk about past accomplishments in order to recapture your coworkers’ emotions, excitement, and energy.

Igniting Change

Whether you’re the most junior employee in your organization or the CEO, showing YOUR enthusiasm for change is a benefit.

Change comes from ones heart.

Remember that a sense of opportunity and possibilities for the future of the company is contagious.  If you see a change that needs to happen, bring it up – don’t just sit back and wait to be told what to do.  Be proactive!

When you show that you’re committed to making your organization succeed, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to be the one running the show sooner than later.

Are you ready to lead?  Will you be an influencer?  What can you do, today, to grab the reins and become a change leader? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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Leaders: What Ever Happened to Excuse Me?


What happened to polite people? It seems that over the years, people have continuously treated people worse. Rudeness and incivility affect people in a deeper level, and especially affect their performance in the workplace.

A recent incident of “over-the-top rudeness” made me relate rudeness and incivility to not only strangers in public, but between coworkers.

As I stepped off he train, the large man in front of me stepped passed an elderly lady and knocked her down. He not only did not say “Excuse me,” or “I’m sorry;” but continued to bump into folks on his way to exiting the train station.

Unfortunately, this type of treatment is becoming more common between people in the workplace.

Rudeness on the Rise

In meetings that I was in the previous day, the rude act of “simply knocking down a person” might have been polite in comparison to what I experienced.

The meetings were contentious, but not because of the topics we were dealing with. They were obnoxious because everyone was trying to get their point out and were unwilling to listen to their counterparts suggestions.

It made me wonder this:

  • Is this normal now?
  • What does our lack of common courtesy cost us?
  • Why are people acting this way?

What I found was shocking…

Workplace Incivility

Workplace incivility is so common that we often don’t even notice it. Recent research found that 1 in 5 people in their sample claimed to be targets of incivility from a coworker at least once a week.

About 2/3 said they witnessed incivility happening among other employees at least once a month. 10% said they saw incivility among their coworkers every day.

What’s more, it’s not unique to the America.

Authors Christine Pearson and Christine Porath in their book “The Cost of Bad Behavior” discovered that 50% of Canadians in their study also reported suffering from incivility directly from their coworkers at least once a week.

99% said that they witnessed incivility at work and 25% reported seeing incivility occurring between coworkers daily.

Politeness and Performance

Rudeness and incivility at work have a huge effect on performance, according to a Harvard Business Review study. In response to rudeness at work:

  • 48% of employees decreased their work effort
  • 47% decreased their time at work
  • 38% decreased their work quality
  • 66% said their performance declined
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident
  • 63% lost time avoiding the offender
  • 78% said their commitment to the organization declined

It even affects team performance:

  • Team mates always guarded and ready to fight.
  • Employees not trusting and unwilling to do more than “exactly what we are told”

Meetings that don’t go any where – because there is not much on the way of decorum people won’t try to have real conversations and therefore most group interactions will turn into monologues

Combatting Rudeness

1. Start being more polite yourself

  • Have a filter – being polite does not mean don’t tell the truth. It means think about how to say seething so that you honor the listener’s sensibilities
  • Respond to rudeness with super politeness. I learned this from my British coworkers. They diffused anger and made aggressors feel stupid by responding to anger or aggression with being polite. It’s hard to be a jerk to someone when they are treating you with respect.
  • Live by the platinum rule. It’s one level above gold. Be better to people than they would be to you. Yes, in the near term you may not reap the benefits but in the long run it will pay dividend to you and make it safe for people around you to go above and beyond without expectations as a normal course of business.

2. Acknowledge there is a problem on the team with rudeness.

Make sure to let folks know that you play a part in it.

  • Let your team know that being rude or “passive aggressive” isn’t okay any more.
  • Create ground rules for discussions that include being civil
  • Don’t let people get away with being inappropriate in groups

When someone says something snide, snarky or just rude, call them on it. For some reason people think it makes them look cool or smart to be über cynical and make others look bad. Let them know that is not “cool”. You’ll see immediate increases in brainstorming and innovation when people don’t have to worry about being cut down in public.

3. Don’t confuse politeness with weakness

  • Being polite doesn’t mean that you must acquiesce to the will of those around you. Make sure that you express your opinions and stand your ground but in a way that encourages dialogue.
  • Remember, you can be firm and polite.

4. Carry this out to customers, colleagues, vendors and everyone

  • Treating your vendors with respect and courtesy will ensure that they will be more apt to respond to emergencies, work with you when you need to cut the budget and partner with you.
  • When you treat others with respect you get a reputation as someone who is easy to work with and..wait for it…more people want to work with you.

Even if this doesn’t earn you 100% more business, it’ll make working that much more pleasurable! After all, we spend over 80% of our adult lives at work, it should be more pleasurable. So don’t be fooled, being civil can have real benefits to the organization’s productivity and profitability.

Have you noticed growing issues with politeness/professionalism? What would/should you do about it?


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Anil Saxena
 is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | (847) 212-0701

Image Sources:socialprimer.com