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Alicia Blain

Archive for December, 2010

As we bid adieu to another year, there are tons of sites that are looking back and reminiscing about 2010 from all sorts of perspectives from top celebrity scandals in 2010 to the most watched YouTube video.  Since this is BIMD Friday, it is very appropriate to go back & take a look at 2010.   CIO Magazine always manages to capture these glimpses of past events in a funny light and they didn’t disappoint me with their Weirdest, Wackiest, and Stupidest Sci/Tech Stories of 2010 Slideshow prepared by Michael Cooney. 

The stories are pretty wacky and I don’t remember seeing or reading about most of them. That’s why these lists are always fun and informative.  I have 2 favorites.  The first one was when Newsday had to pull down a funny Apple IPAD video ad where the father in the video is reading a  newspaper on his IPAD but forgets it’s a gadget & tries to swat a fly with it.  You see the IPAD’s screen shattered & a dead fly next to it.  The video went viral but soon after it was released it was pulled down never to be seen again. Cute idea, though & very original.

The second is how IBM is going to put their famous Watson Supercomputer on Jeopardy in the first ever million dollar man vs. machine Jeopardy competition.  Put it on your calendars.  It will air on February 14 -16 of 2011.  Should be an interesting show. What were your favorite whacky stories from the list?

As the year draws to end, I hope we have had many whacky stories to make us laugh throughout the year and to make us appreciative of all we have in our lives.  I can’t wait to see what interesting things 2011 has in store for us but I know we won’t be disappointed!  As we get ready to bring in a new year,  I wish everyone lots of health, wealth & happiness.

Happy Friday, everybody & all the best for the coming year!

A few weeks ago I went on a rather lengthy discussion on the first of four trends that worry me regarding corporate America’s ability to retain top talent in the 21st Century.  It was the poor leadership that exists in most corporations today.  To me, that is the most worrisome trend because poor leadership is entrenched in most organizations & very difficult to remove.  The second trend that threatens to keep mediocrity alive & flourishing is corporate’s fascination with Clinging to Outdated Prinicples.

There are some leadership priniciples, techniques & ways of doing things that may have worked in the past when the world was a much simpler, less sophisticated place but they don’t any longer.  A perfect example of this is the old command and control philosophy of leading.  You would think by now that organizations and their leaders were smarter than to use that technique but you’d be wrong.  There is still an amazingly large cohort of leaders that forget we are no longer working in the Industrial Age where the workers were mostly uneducated and the brass had all the answers and all the control.  “Not no more”  as one of my Millennial employees used to say.  Those days are long gone yet there are leaders and managers that still cling to those beliefs.  One of the last bosses I reported to in corporate was someone with that outdated style.  Talk about a turn off & a motivation killer. 

Today as I work with clients I still walk into corporate teams & see the command & control very much in play.  Most of the times the leaders employing the outdated style are Veterans or Boomers.  Although I have seen some Xers exhibit these tendencies, for the most part they have thankfully steered clear of that ineffective technique.  My question when I see these leaders is why are they still allowed to lead that way?  Why doesn’t HR or their boss take steps to eliminate the ineffective behavior?  Most of the times, it has to do with the person’s boss not wanting to deal with the issue or being of the same ilk.  So it’s allowed to take root & grow to the detriment of the team. Very sad & very disheartening. You will always see a team lose interest in peak performance when managed by these command & control freaks.  What I find interesting is that these people never see themselves that way.  In their rose colored glasses they think they are great bosses because they have everyone under “control”.  If they only knew that they have run their team to the ground & are getting only mediocre results from them.

Just like command and control, there remains other equally ineffective principles that simply don’t work when managing a technically savvy, knowledge based workforce.  One of them is the idea of the hierarchy that exists in most corporate structures.   Although in the past it has been a highly efficient way to run large corporations, in most situations I have witnessed,  hierarchies lead to silos.  If you work for a particular department, there rarely is an incentive for you to work across departments unless you are working on a project that involves another team & affects your team’s results.  Even then, there is usually a lot of friction and misunderstandings across teams. 

If you work for a particular team, then you only worry about the chain of command in your team.  Period.  Many times there is no interest to work or even get to know people in other teams.  Now the management team in most organizations will tell you that there are no silos and that cross functional teams work well together but again, when you look behind the curtain, that is simply not true. Silos exist everywhere in organizations and they are bad.  They get in the way of collaboration and in turn, innovation.  I can’t tell how many times I’ve run into needless duplication of effort within organizations because team #1 had no idea that team #2 was working on the same project or something similar.  If they had communicated better & joined forces, imagine the time and money that would have been saved.  Also, think of  the ideas that could have been discussed and tried out when people with different perspectives on something came together.

Hierarchies also lead to having too many chiefs & too much bureaucracy.  I laugh everytime I hear a new title being bandied about in a corporation.  To me, it just means another silo is being created and more bureaucracy with it.  It never means more innovation or productivity even though that’s what they say the new “chief”  will do.  The problem is that many times, the chiefs don’t play well in the sandbox & that makes the Indians mimic their behavior. The Chief Marketing Officer thinks she knows more about digital media than the Chief Information Officer who thinks he knows more about financial systems than the Chief Financial Officer who thinks she knows more about  the operations than the Chief Operating Officer who thinks he knows more about the risk faced by the organization than the Chief Risk Officer and…  You get the picture.  To many chiefs.  Now it would be logical to think that the chief of them all – the Chief Executive Officer – would ensure the other chiefs all played nice in the sandbox & worked cohesively toward a common goal.  But alas, no. Unfortunately, the chief of chiefs has his hands full trying to keep the real bigshots- the Board of Directors – happy.

As the 21st Century begins its second decade, it sure would be nice to let go of some of those old outdated principles & experiment with some new techniques.  A few of the more savvy organizations are already beginning to do that and I applaud them.  They are the ones that will stay ahead & drive much needed change & innovation in the future.  But there are still too few organizations doing that.  We need many more to shake things up.

The bureaucracy that has been allowed to thrive in corporations  & the office politics that go with it have done much to damage motivation and engagement in the workforce.  These outdated principles have not kept up with the fast pace of change and the way people want to work and contribute in their jobs. Employees become disenchanted, frustrated and upset.  While many leave in search of a better place, many have no choice but to stay but they check out.  They no longer have skin in the game & they no longer contribute new ideas or new ways of doing things.  They just go through the motions and by doing so mediocrity gets imbedded a little deeper into the fabric of the organization as a result.

Coming up: Trend #3 – Better Alternatives outside the corporation

Strange question, right?  Well, not really if you think about it.  As Baby Boomers trying to get comfortable texting to our Millennial staff and children, it often appears like we have large, clunky thumbs.  Have you ever looked at how effortlessly Millennials text?  Have you seen a Boomer text?  It can be painful to watch and pretty funny.

And what Boomers write as texts  is even funnier. Well, thanks to the creativity of what I believe is probably an enterprising Millennial, we now have a blog called “When Parents Textwhere we can actually read the wacky texts that Boomers sendThe subtitle under the blog’s name is ” Small Keypad… Old Hands”.  Is that a great description?  I love it!  According to the site, it  “…  is dedicated to the trials and errors that come when a parent handles a cellphone”.  I’m chuckling as I copy that.

Basically, the website is a repository of text messages that Millennials have received from their parents.  They even have a Best of the Month section  & a Favorite section.  Although some of the texts are not that interesting there are some that are absolutely hysterical & clearly show Boomer discomfort in the texting arena.  Sometimes, they show Boomer originality in coming up with new phrases or emoticons.  One mom created a Bowtie emoticon I’m not sure why she created it in the context of the text itself. 

That’s what makes the site amusing.  Another text was from a father & he texted the following:  “This is your father. call me when you get this text message. Do not reply. DAD”   See what I mean?  Very funny stuff. 

As the year winds down and some of us have some free time to spare, check out this funny site and catch a few laughs while you catch the creativity of Millennials.  Like I’ve said many times:  Millennials are not afraid to start their own trends – they don’t think outside the box because they don’t see the box in the first place.  That’s a good way to start 2011.  Throw out the box that limits your ability to see innovation and possibilities…

I know. I know.  I usually post my Back in My Day blog on Fridays but given that tomorrow is Christmas Eve, I wanted to share this with you today because it’s so appropriate for the holidays.

I ran across one of the cutest and one of the most original videos on You Tube.  It’s called the “Digital Story of Nativity or Christmas 2.0“. First, you have to love the title. Then you have to love the premise.  The video goes back in time (thus the reason it is in my BIMD series) and recreates the birth of Christ as if all the social media tools were available at the time.  So you see the Archangel Gabriel send a text to Mary telling her she will be having a baby.  You see Mary sending Joseph an email to let him know the news and that they need to talk.  And it goes on from there.  They use Google Maps, the IPhone, Facebook, Ebay, and you name it to tell the story.  Very funny

To me, this is a great example of using creativity, technology & humor to capture the interest of viewers.  They took a familiar story & gave it a 21st Century spin by applying technology to make it entertaining.  It keeps you engaged and curious to see how else they will surprise you with.  You are not disappointed.  It leaves you with a smile.

So as we get ready to celebrate Christmas with our families tomorrow & Saturday, I hope this video puts a smile on your face and makes you chuckle.  As the video says “times change, feelings remain the same”. 

Happy Digital Christmas everybody!

By now you all know that I am a huge fan of Success Magazine.  It’s one of the few magazines that I continue to get as a hardcopy.  One of the reasons I do that is because I love the free Success CD that accompanies every edition.  I take the CD and listen to it when I’m driving.

I’ve been a little busy these last few months and sort of fell behind on my Success CDs.  Yesterday, I just finished listening to September’s CD.  Like I said… I’m a little behind.  I was totally captivated by an interview that Darren Hardy, the Publisher of Success Magazine had with 3 amazing Millennials.  I was so captivated that I had to stop the car & listen to the interview.  It was very moving.  Darren was interviewing the founders of a non-profit organization called “The Invisible Children“.  The founders were 3 Millennials.  Their names: Jason Russell, the mastermind that started the whole project, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey.  These 3 young men in 2003 were barely in their early 20′s with Laren Poole being the youngest at 19.  They decided to take a “road trip” to Africa that started them on a journey that would change their lives and so many others in a positive way.

You see, they got stranded in Northern Uganda and came across an unsettling reality:  children were being kidnapped every night from their homes and forced to be child soldiers by a rebel army in the area.  To avoid this fate,  children would walk barefoot every night, night after night to the centers of the cities to avoid being kidnapped by these rebels.  These 3 young American Millennials were shocked by this and felt compelled to document it on video.  That started their journey to not only raise awareness but raise money and enact legislation to help these young children in Northern Uganda.

I wish you could listen to this captivating CD.  I wasn’t able to find it on the Success Magazine website but I found the next best things. One was an article written by Sally Deneen in January of 2009 titled: “Making a Difference – Invisible Children“  .  There’s also a great video in Success Magazine’s Video Library called “Invisible Children“.  It’s a great short video and well worth the time to watch.

As you will see by reading & watching the video, these 3 young men started a movement.  They reached out to young Millennials just like them and showed them what was happening in Northern Uganda and what they wanted to do to change it.  These 3 young men wanted to rebuild the schools in war torn Uganda to give the children a fighting chance.  And their Millennial peers across the US heard the call and put their collective support behind them.  Since 2003, these 3 Millennials have gone from embarking on a youthful adventure on another continent  to starting a non-profit organization that has raised millions for their cause AND just this past May, they were influential in passing a bill in the House of Representatives called the LRA Disarmament & Uganda Recovery Act.

Not too shabby, wouldn’t you say?  In the video that’s on the Success Magazine site, I love what Jolly Okot,  Country Director in Uganda says about who is raising the money for this effort.  She says ” It’s young people like you who are raising the money… not the big people”.  I love that quote.  It’s the young, not the big people.

As I listened to the CD in my car, I felt such pride for this generation.  They have such a powerful way of using their collective strength for good.  I couldn’t help but wonder how much more innovative and productive corporations could be today if they just tapped a small piece of the talent that their Millennial employees have and are dying to deploy.  I also worried that so many corporations would ultimately lose out on the best talent because they are failing to see it, to tap it, to inspire it and grow it NOW.  Millennials are not afraid to go elsewhere & usually it’s to start their own companies or in this case, their own non-profits.

Darren asked these 3 amazing Millennials to give organizations advice on how to tap the Millennials that worked for them.  They gave some wonderful advice that I want to share with you because it goes to the heart of what leaders need to do to engage & retain the Millennials.  I don’t remember which of the 3 Millennials said it but he mentioned the Triple Bottom Line. To engage Millennials,   corporations need to focus on Profits, People & the Planet.  Too often, corporations just focus on the first and almost to the detriment of the last two.

Other advice:  

  1. For leaders to swallow the fear.  Let the Millennials go where they think they should go.  I couldn’t agree more.  At first, I was afraid to trust the Millennials because their approach was different than mine.  But I slowly discovered that by blending their unique insights with my experience created a win-win situation and sparked creativity and innovation in ways that would have never been discovered if I had not chosen to let go of the fear & just experiment.
  2. Show  Millennials how they affect the Mission statement.  Connect the dots for them.  This is so true.  Most leaders never spend time with their staff showing them directly how they affect the business.  That’s why most employees have no clue of the strategic direction their company is taking & how they contribute to it or not.  Every year, after we completed the IT Strategic Plan, I would convene my team & share the plan with them & how it fit within the bigger corporate plan.  Then I would individually show them how each one of their projects contributed to the IT plan & the bigger plan.  This was illuminating not only for the Millennials but for all the generations that made up my team.  There’s nothing more rewarding than to see how you affect the bigger picture.
  3. Value the impossible.  I love that.  I think that is sorely missing from most corporations today.  We just play the safe bet. We stay only in the realm of what we think is possible.  That’s a recipe for mediocrity.  These 3 Millennials at such an early age understand that there is value in trying what has not been done.  Experiment & try the impossible.
  4. Take on a cause.  Millennials are hard wired for it and they look to their leaders to be part of a cause.  Pick one and get them involved.  You will see amazing results & your “cool factor” will go up as well.

So if you are spending a lot of time complaining about the Millennials in your team and how lazy & ineffective they are,  maybe it’s just because they are not inspired to do anything better.  Because when they are inspired, look out!  The sky’s the limit.  Just look at what these young men have accomplished in a short time. 

So what you?  What are you doing to inspire engagement & involvement & innovation in the Millennials in your team?

As the holiday hibernation period sets in, many of us begin to take some  much needed time off.  In case you are stuck at the mall, waiting in a long line to pay for your purchases, you may be looking for a way to distract yourself so you don’t scream with frustration. 

If you enjoy reading articles on management or leadership, I have just the thing.  I came across an article in strategy+business titled “ 15 Years, 50 Classics“  written by Art Kleiner.  In celebration of their 15th anniversary, the magazine editors went back in time (appropriate for a BIMD mention) and identified the top 50 articles (the Classics) that have had the most impact in their 15 year run.

Believe it or not, many of the articles written as far back as 1995 still have relevancy even though the world, and the US,  were very different back then (no Google, no YouTube or Twitter, no China or India as major global players).  You have a wide selection of topics to pick so you’ll only scratch the surface while you’re on line.  Between Christmas and New Year’s, as things begin to calm down a bit, you may find yourself with some time to go back in time and catch up.

Who knows?  Maybe one of the articles will resonate with you and give you some ideas to experiment with in 2011.  New Year’s Resolution?  Done…

Happy reading and happy Friday, everybody…

Last Friday, I got the rare treat to watch Diane Sawyer’s World News segment on ABC News called “Person of the Week”.  I was so glad I did because they featured a wonderful example of a Seattle high school whose teachers were trying innovative techniques to engage their students.  The school was the  Shorecrest & Shorewood High School and the name of the experiment was “The Social Experiment” . You can visit the ABC website and read ” Persons of the Week: Tech-Free Teens and the Teacher Who Inspired Them“.

It started with the creativity of a teacher named Trent Mitchell.  From the clip, he looks like he’s a Generation Xer but I could be wrong.  He teaches Video Production in the school and his students were talking about the Facebook movie, The Social Network.  The teacher teased the students about their dependence on technology and bet them they couldn’t stop texting and using social networks for a week. The students took him up on the challenge and ultimately it turned into a “social experiment” where the teachers and students would go tech-free for a whole week.

Trent’s challenge to the students was a great idea and inspiring because according to the clip, he wanted them to “ think about ways they can communicate besides just sending a quick ‘OMG, LOL’ message”.  In other words, he wanted them to experiment with other techniques and ideas to see where it would go. But before he could do that,  he himself had to get comfortable with experimenting with a different approach to teaching. It turned out to be a great experiment and even though many of the students found it strange to go tech-free and go back in time they discovered a lot about themselves and they learned to get comfortable talking to their peers in person rather than through Facebook or texting.  I chuckled because to these  Millennials, going back in time was going WAY back to 1995!

The real beauty of the experiment was that the students created a website and documented the entire project.  You can click here and visit the site to see all the great ideas and successes brought on by this simple yet powerful experiment.  Some of the videos prepared by the students were creative and thoughtful and just great to watch.  Just a wonderful blend of 21st Century tools with 21st Century teaching to create a vibrant student experience.  Wouldn’t it be great if other teachers and students in classrooms across America could take a page from the creativity shown by the Shorecrest & Shorewood High School and create their own versions of the Social Experiment.  Imagine the collective achievement and successes that could be obtained.

One of the recurring themes in my blog is the need that I see for institutions – be they corporate or educational – to embrace the idea of infusing a sense of experimentation into their teams or classrooms.  I often talk about my success in doing that as I began to hire Millennials and slowly realized that the way I led before needed a leadership makeover.  Part of that makeover was to let go of some of my past practices – what I call the status quo – and embrace new techniques that were untested and often made me feel a little uncomfortable trying them.  As seasoned leaders or teachers we instinctively call upon our trusty toolbox which we’ve taken great care to develop after so many years of leading teams ,managing people and teaching students.  These are techniques and practices we’ve used in the past that long ago were new & untested for us but that now fit us like a glove. We feel very comfortable using them.  What I found was that I was so comfortable using these technques that I never stopped to think whether they were still effective or not.  When I finally did, I realized that many of them were not because so much had changed over the years.  That change was manifesting itself in the young workforce coming into my team and causing me a lot of frustration and confustion. 

Once I let go of the need to keep the status quo and I began to experiment, I was able to adapt the techniques of the past so I could effectively lead the workforce of the future and the results were amazing.   This is exactly what Trent Mitchell and the other teachers did in the Seattle high school.  They let go of the traditional forms of teaching and experimented with a concept that was new to them, it was untested and probably a bit scary to undertake.  But look at the great results achieved not only for the teachers but for the students and hopefully, for other schools that get inspired by this innovative approach.  All it took was a baby step and great things were achieved not the least of which was to be selected as a Person of the Week on ABC News. 

Kudos to Trent Mitchell and the other teachers at the Shorecrest & Shorewood High School that participated in the experiement.  They should be proud of what they started.  More importantly, kudos to the students for participating wholeheartedly in the experiment and going back in time to learn some techniques from the past that aren’t so bad and are still pretty worthwhile to learn.

So what about you?  How are you infusing experimentation in your class or in your team to engage the students and workforce of the 21st Century?

I saw this video last Friday and I’m still laughing so I thought I’d share it with everybody as we start another week.  It’s perfect for a Monday morning pick-me-up.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Jane Wells, the CNBC correspondent.  She has a blog called “Funny Business” where she shares anything that tickles her funny bone.  She is a very funny person herself and usually her take on a particular situation is hilarious.  I highly recommend keeping up with Funny Business.  I find it to be a great way to de-stress when you are having a hectic day. 

Last Friday, Jane shared a funny video called “Animal Crackers“.  What made the video a gem to watch was the combination of 3 distinct effects coming together to create a wonderfully funny experience.  It starts with a nature video where pictures of animals are captured and presented on the video.  Then you have people doing voiceovers while the animals are making a particular sound or movement.  Finally, the accent of the voiceovers are British and that great British humor is infused in the funny things that are being said.  All in all, it looks like the animals are either saying something funny or are having conversations with other animals. Each little skit is funnier than the one that preceded it.

On top of being a funny video, it shows so much creativity on the part of the creators. To make something so ordinary as watching what could be called a nature clip and then coming up with funny dialogue and inserting the voiceover at just the right time to make it believable and deliver the punchline is impressive.

As I watch it several times, I couldn’t help but think that this kind of creativity and fusion of distinct formats is what corporate America is lacking today.  The creators of this video clearly let go of the status quo in achieving humor.  Instead of thinking outside the box, they decided to throw out the box altogether and come up with something totally unique and interesting.

Letting go of the status quo and throwing out the comfortable “boxes” that we’ve used for so long to lead our teams is exactly what we need to keep organizations competitive in the 21st Century. This video was a nice reminder of what can be achieved in a different medium when you do that.  Of course, that requires that we, as leaders, get comfortable experimenting with new techniques so we can create a better work environment for our staff.  Who knows?  This, in turn, can lead to innovation in ideas that can ultimately lead to new products & services.  That’s not funny business; that’s smart business.

So take a few minutes & watch the video and share it with your staff.  See which skits each person likes best & why. You may discover something new about someone that works for you.

Which skit is your favorite?  Mine was the chipmunk (or maybe the squirrel?) that kept saying “Alan”, “Alan”. 

Have a great week ahead, everybody!

One of my clients asked me yesterday for a gift suggestion for his Millennial (20 year old)  son.  As it so happens, I had just read an article in Computerworld aptly called “Cool Stuff: Your 2010 Gift Guide“  so I was able to rattle off some “cool stuff”. Later, I sent him the link to this article.

It occurred to me that it would be neat to share the link today before the weekend holiday shopping craze begins again.  Hopefully, it will help ease the stress of worrying what to buy for your Millennials or other family members.  Now most of the suggestions as you would imagine are gadget-oriented (smartphones, laptops, HDTVs) and are a bit pricey but with all the great deals you can find this holiday season you might catch a break and get in on a great discount.  For less pricey items, you have to fast forward to the last 2 pages of the article and you’ll find cheaper cool stuff like GelaSkins and Mobi Headphonies ( adorable speakers that attach to cell/smartphones to amplify the sound).

Happy shopping and happy Friday, everybody…

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately given some of the trends I’ve seen unfold on the corporate front over the last few years.  Let me start out by saying that I have always been an advocate of having a corporate career.  I worked in corporate for over 25 years and for most of those years I felt it was the right place for me. Since then, a lot of things have occurred in the corporate arena that have made me ask whether I would feel the same about embarking on a corporate career today if I were in my 20′s or 30′s. To be totally honest, my enthusiasm to start a corporate career today would be tepid at best. 

For me, there are 4 strong trends that point to why corporations today are at risk of attracting only mediocre talent in the 21st Century.  I will be exploring each of the 4 reasons in separate blogs over the next few days.  Let’s look at Trend #1 now. 

  1. Poor Leadership:  Having both worked in corporate and having interacted with countless corporate executives, I have seen first hand how corporations have lowered their expectations in identifying and retaining outstanding leaders to run their business units and their companies.  Most corporations pay huge sums of money to consultants to help them identify and come up with methodologies or matrices on how to identify their top performers or “High Potential or HIPOs” as they are called.  It’s nice to be able to show something to their Board of Directors or to the outside world demonstrating that they are focused on tapping the very best performers for their leadership pipeline. But when you peek behind the curtain the reality is very different as most corporate employees can attest.  I’m sure most leadership consultants will attest to that as well as they see how their customized methodologies & frameworks are rarely utilized by their corporate clients.

 The reality is that most organizations promote people to positions of leadership that simply are not qualified to be in  those        positions.  Most of the time, there is no clear, consistent criteria applied to identifying people that demonstrate top leadership qualities.  In my experience I have seen the opposite: people promoted to leadership positions for all the wrong reasons.  Here are the top 4:

  1. The person is very good at the particular work they do (e.g. good at sales, good in finance, good tech person) but has never shown any ability to lead the people that do that particular work .
  2. The person’s boss is not a particularly effective leader himself and therefore makes an equally ineffective promotional decision.
  3. The person has been in one position for a very long time and the next step is a manager position. The person is pushing his or her boss for a promotion.  The person can usually point out other employees in similar situations who have been promoted.  Again, because no consistent criteria is used to identify solid leadership potential, the person usually succeeds in getting the promotion.  The corporation rolled the leadership dice once again and only time will tell whether that person was qualified to be in a leadership position.
  4. The person’s boss is “encouraged” to promote this person to a leadership position by those in higher positions in the corporate chain.  I’ve seen this happen a lot and it’s so bad for morale. This is where the boss being pressured to do this must take a firm stand with his or her superior. It only needs to happen once. 

Let me give an example here. Over the years as a boss myself, I was put in that very situation several times by different bosses.  My response each and every time was the same and I always took very hard line.  This was always my response: “You put me in this position because you trusted my ability to run my team which includes the selection of qualified individuals for promotional consideration.  If I allow you do the selection for me, I will lose the trust of my team to make decisions and it shows a lack of trust on your part for me to make the decision.  If you truly want me to do this,  I will go ahead and do it but you must know that I will begin to look for another job immediately.  Not having your trust nor the trust of my team in making decisions makes it very difficult for me to lead and I have no alternative but to remove myself from the process. ”  This has worked every time and the “request” was never made again.

      5.  The person’s boss is ineffective and relies heavily on that person to run the team.  The person is tired of doing this without recognition and wants a promotion.  The boss, fearful that the person will leave, relents and promotes him or her. I’ve seen this happen too often as well.  This clearly shows that the organization has no clue about the effectiveness of it’s current leaders if an ineffective boss has been allowed to stay in a position of leadership for so long.  If the person asking for the promotion is a good leader, then that will be good for the team. If not, it’s another example of bad leadership decisions made.  Rolling the dice again.

The end result of this list above is that it sends a bad  message to employees and they begin to lose trust in their bosses and in their leaders.  After all, if any or all of the conditions listed above are allowed to happen on such a critical component as leadership, what other similar things are taking place in the organization?  People begin to get disillusioned especially those that can truly be effective leaders who are not being identified or given the chance to prove themselves.  With time, the true High Performers either leave the organization or just give up and no longer try to do their best work. 

I see the latter happening a lot in corporations today and it’s troubling to me. But it’s understandable, right?  Why should someone continue to do their very best when they don’t get recognized for it or are overlooked for a position they are qualified and it’s given to someone who simply doesn’t deserve it?  Whether the high performer leaves, or he or she stops giving their best, the organization loses because they are not getting top performance out of their employees.  Mediocrity sets is and so does indifference.  Bad combination to have in a global, competitive 21st Century marketplace. 

Do you see any of these 5 reasons play out in your organization?  What do you think about them?

Coming Up: Trend #2  – “Clinging to Outdated Principles“.