271 Service & Value: The No-Matter-What Approach To Leadership

Service & Value: The No-Matter-What Approach To Leadership - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 271

Leadership is learned. Whether it’s by experience, trial and error, books, mentors, bosses or coaches — we all have to learn it. There may be natural born skills and qualities that are befitting leadership, but we’ve still got to learn it.

I don’t believe in managing people. Maybe it’s just a semantical annoyance to me, but it smacks of manipulation and control. As a business builder I wanted to manipulate and control products and processes. Inventory control is an activity that includes the term, “control.” A business with inventory must manipulate that inventory to operate profitably. I believe in managing products, processes and work. But when it comes to people I believe in leading. That includes training, developing, supporting, serving and accountability.

Executives – organizational leaders – are most often dual-role workers. They have to manage work (all forms of it) and they have to simultaneously lead people.

The fundamental job of every executive is to make high value decisions. That means the decisions must be made quickly and accurately. But there’s a lot more to it.

Making good (even great) decisions requires:

a. due diligence in gathering valid information
b. wise discernment of the options and choices
c. sufficient speed
d. proper efficient execution
e. comprehensive follow-through and accountability

There are some smaller steps within each of these, but that’s the general overview of the decision-making process. This is the central activity of every executive and it’s where we provide value for our organization. We’re paid to make good decisions that bring value to the organization. The better our decision-making, the more value we can bring to the organization. The more value we bring to the organization, the higher our own value. Executive careers rise and fall based on our ability to make good decisions…and that includes our ability to execute. The execution is where our decisions are tested and proven.

All along the way people are involved. We involve people in the information gathering phase. Intelligence isn’t merely facts and figures – it’s insight provided by others. When I enter an organization I’m interested in finding out the collective experience of the team. These days it’s fairly common to encounter a top leader of a team with team members far more experienced in the organization or industry. That’s intelligence the executive can put to good use. The final decision may rest on the executive, but wise leaders will rely on the collective wisdom of others to gather information and explore the various options available before deciding. The more a leader can effectively use that collective wisdom to benefit the process, the better.

People are also involved in the execution of the decision. Leaders need strong, capable people with a high degree of willingness to carry the load of getting the thing done properly. The people doing the work need (and deserve) good leadership to serve and support them in their work.

Service and value are the two major drivers behind effective leadership. Not ego or control. Not ambition or promotion. Every leader’s worth is determined by the positive impact they have on the organization. It’s not merely about doing the work…or in doing the work well. Regularly I hear executives lament some team member whose work product is perfectly fine, if not excellent — but the person is difficult to work with, or alongside. They may have a caustic demeanor, or poor communication skills. It’s rare for such a person to remain part of any team because their value is diminished by their liabilities. So it is with an executive who may be able to make great decisions, but lessen their value due to off-setting negative behaviors.

Service and value are game changing ideas in the life of every truly effective leader. They characterize the very best leaders. Mostly, because they’re not self-serving. By putting the focus on helping others succeed, the effective leader finds new levels of personal success. It’s much easier to talk about than it is to do. But if you can find the path to commit to it, it can change everything and put your executive career on a new trajectory you may have never thought possible. It’s a competitive edge on two fronts: a) it’s uncommon and b) it produces positive results that are difficult to match.

Where’s your value as a leader?

It’s in your value to serving your organization by helping others succeed, or achieve results they wouldn’t otherwise. It’s in your ability to invest in good or great decision-making and in propelling others forward in the work. It’s not easy work. Nor is it work you’ll ever finish. Effective leaders can’t hide, lose focus or put their grow slack in the work.

What’s so hard about it?

All the constraints, hurdles and roadblocks that get in the way. And that’s just for starters. There’s also the hostility of the environments and circumstances. Maybe it’s a down economy, rising interest rates, restricted budgets, limited resources, broken machinery, bad weather and more. Then there are the unforeseen fire storms that crop up just when we thought we had things under control. Just to prove to us how fallible and vulnerable we really are. Humility makers.

These things – and more – provide excuses. Most of us have used one or more of them. Some of us rely on them often.

You hear it when a retailing company says that sales would have been better last month, but we had record rainfall. You hear it when a sale organization complains that an arch rival undercut pricing with predatory marketing tactics. And you hear it when a logistics leader complains that competent truck drivers are almost impossible to hire.

Managers must manage. Leaders must lead. Those are just short quips for the practical reality that every effective leader must eventually learn.

You must perform no matter what.

That doesn’t mean you do whatever it takes by cutting corners, compromising integrity, sacrificing ethics or breaking the law. Nor does it mean you do whatever it takes by trampling on people, alienating partners or cheating customers. It means that you perform acts of service and value regardless of the obstacles or circumstances.

No-Matter-What Is The Acid Test

Many people claim they’d do this or that if only something else were in play. “We’d have hit our quota if only the weather would have been better,” says a sales manager. “I’d be more decisive if my Divisional President would support me, ” says the VP. “If I just had a budget 10% higher I’d be able to execute a better strategy,” says the general manager of production.

These are examples of leaders who’ve yet to learn the “no-matter-what” way to effective leadership. Honestly, I think it’s the ONLY strategy to effective leadership. I’m not saying other styles or methodologies won’t produce positive numbers. I’ve seen autocratic tyrants produce record setting sales and profits. But they’re not sustainable over the long haul. You can cost cut your way to record profits only to find yourself fighting for your financial life just a few quarters down the line. Short-term success can be had by just about any method out there. That’s where the no-matter-what methodology trumps all the others. It’s uncompromising, unwavering and always does the right* thing.

* The right thing being defined as what best serves the organization and the people who help make the organization successful. 

That doesn’t mean that all the people on the team of an effective leader agree with or are pleased with the decisions. It’s not about making people happy. It’s about helping people achieve and perform at their best…or helping them improve toward that end.

Suppose you’re feeling ill. You know something is wrong, but you’ve no idea what. You make an appointment with your doctor. You want to hear her tell you that everything is fine, but you know that’s not true. You’d be pleased to hear that you’ve got an inner ear infection, easily solved with antibiotics. But you’d only be pleased if that’s the truth. What if the truth is grim? Do you still want to hear the truth? Of course you do. It’s your life. It’s important to you. You need to know what’s going on and what options are available to solve this health problem.

You want your doctor to properly diagnose you and inform you no matter what. So it goes with your leadership.

Unfortunately, some leaders deceive their team. They withhold critical information that would help their team perform better. They sabotage the success of others by behaving poorly. Intentions don’t matter. Poor tactics, habits and behaviors are without excuse. And I don’t much care if ignorance is the cause. No organization that strives toward high performance should tolerate ineffective leadership. It’s the responsibility of the organization to hire, train and retain effective leaders. Part of that includes holding leaders accountable. Truth matters. Doing the right thing is always the highest value proposition. Just like the truth told by your doctor about your health.

I ask questions. Lots of questions. I listen. I prompt further discussion. It’s how I accomplish my work of helping – and serving – leaders.

I pay attention to details. Body language. Words. Phrases. Looks. Glances. Stories people tell. What isn’t said.

I’m very driven to help leaders improve because they impact so many lives. Men and women, young and old, are influenced by “the boss.” That makes the work of every boss crucial to the welfare of not just the organization, but of the lives of those they lead. Don’t take that responsibility lightly or casually because it’s important work.

Leadership is a high risk, high value proposition. Your failure will negatively impact many people. Your success will change lives. The value proposition of effective leadership gives bosses an opportunity to not available to just anybody. Many people are clamoring to make a difference. The leader is making a difference. For good. Or bad.

Go all in. Devote yourself to lifelong learning and improving. Learn how to help people more effectively. Commit to serving your team, your organization. Serve your boss. Serve your people. Serve your peers. Don’t be stingy. Or egotistical. Stop fretting about who gets credit. Focus on helping other people do their very best work. That’s where your value is built. It can’t be avoided. It’s apparent when a person is in charge who has that spirit driven by a “no-matter-what” motivation.  Be that leader.


Subscribe to the podcast

bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!

270 Refusing Help

Refusing Help - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 270

It was years ago when I was first called, “Coach.” It was a group of kids playing hockey. I’ve had 6 year olds call me coach, and college guys do the same. It’s a pretty good feeling actually. Knowing that you’re helping players learn, develop and compete. But it’s really cool to help players improve and bond together as a group. Nothing beats the feeling of being part of a great team.

A few years ago when I began to morph my career away from “roll-up-your-sleeves-get-your-hands-dirty” consulting to more of a boutique coach specializing in helping executives become more effective leaders…I wasn’t too sure of the labels. I was a bit jaded with all the “life coaching” services by every Tom, Dick and Harry. The notion that anybody with a business card could coach merely based on their ability to market themselves and be paid repulsed me somewhat. It still does. But fancy certifications by outfits whose main goal is to collect more revenue repulsed me even more.

Besides, my work violated every rule of proper business model creation. I was – and still am – a one-man-band. That’s by design. For decades I’ve run larger operations with employees. I wanted to rely solely on myself. My business isn’t scaleable. I serve people in the most individualized, personalized way possible. I dive into specific issues, challenges and constraints in work, people’s performance, organizational cultures and teams. It’s just the opposite of a one-size-fits-all approach to coaching. It’s the only way I know how to roll. And I believe in it. Strongly.

People are unique. Their circumstances are, too. Along with their work, culture and teams. Then there’s that experience and skill element. The coaching given to a beginner in golf or any other endeavor should be very different than coaching given to an elite player. I didn’t coach 6-year-olds the same way I coached college guys. Different skill set. Different experience. Different understanding. Different coaching required.

Coaching provides one enormous opportunity for my clients – perspective. It’s never about me imposing my will on anybody. I do hope to influence people and persuade them. Mostly of what’s possible. The goal is always the same.

Higher Human Performance

I want to help people elevate their performance and the performance within their organization or their team. These are leaders. They are executives.

It’s worth noting that the people who benefit most from coaching are high achievers or those desirous of becoming high achievers. They also have one other important ingredient – willingness. A high degree of willingness!

Once in awhile I encounter an executive or leader whose the subject of my coaching. That is, my services have been employed by a superior, a sponsor. Usually it’s provided as a benefit, a professional and personal development investment the organization wants to make in this person. In spite of that motivation, I can sometimes run into the person who resists my services. They simply refuse help.

When it first happened some years ago I took it personally, but experience has taught me that such people are resistant to help from almost everybody. I won’t say they resist everybody because I like to think we’ve all got at least one person with whom we could let down our guard and accept some counsel. Maybe not though.

Knowing why I’ve been commissioned, and knowing how badly the sponsor – usually the boss – wants me to serve the reluctant executive, it’s frustrating when I press and press, only to be insincerely patronized by the client. But there’s another aspect of my business model that isn’t conducive for empire building – I’m more interested in results than I am in embedding myself as a paid coach. I’m one of those guys who think chiropractors serve a wonderful slot in health care. I’ve been to them before. However, I’m also opposed to those chiropractors who are mostly interested in keeping you coming back week after week for the rest of your life. If I were a chiropractor I’d be the guy trying to help you as quickly as possible so you could stop seeing me. I know the business stupidity of that business model, but I’m at a phase in my life where I can afford to harness the power of a stupid business model because it’s just how I prefer to roll. I wouldn’t likely coach any client to follow suit. 😉

I want to make a difference for my clients. Whenever I run into a reluctant client who behaves like the job candidate who answers every question with a patented “good answer” I grow increasingly frustrated. “Tell me about one of your biggest weaknesses,” asks the job interview. The job candidate says, “I love people too much.” Yeah, I sometimes get that from people. And 100% of the time they’re the people who refuse my help. They work hard to fool me and put on a front that I know isn’t true. Sometimes I can break through, but most of the time they maintain their guard as I walk out the door for the final time.

I’ve often thought about why people behave like that, but in every single case I report to the boss that I was unable to help the person because they refused to come clean and be honest. I’ve never had a boss be surprised. Turns out that in every case the boss commissioned me because: a) they wanted to make an investment in the person and b) they were experiencing some of the problems I encountered. They were hoping I might be able to affect some improvement. Sadly, I could have – if only the person would have been able to accept help.

Refusing help isn’t limited to professionals like me though. It’s a much deeper problem for some. They refuse help from their boss, teammates and peers. Well, it doesn’t look as overt as that. It’s more passive.

“No, I’m good. Thanks!”

“Things are great.”

“No. No problems here.”

Every refuser I’ve encounter behaves in a similar fashion. They work hard to appear friendly and easy going. Their power weapon is deception through charm. They want others to think they’re unflappable, capable of handling any difficulty that might come their way. Unlike you and me, they’ve never encountered a challenge that left them wondering, “What do I do now?” Or so they’d have you think.

I’m sure some social scientist or psychologist would have a field day trying to dissect such characters, but that’s not my job (or my qualifications). I’m just trying to help people elevate their own performance, and the performance of their organization. An impossible task when people refuse to acknowledge any room for improvement.

One of the first times I encountered this was more years ago than I can remember. I was helping a senior executive, an older gentleman, develop a younger executive. He wanted to groom this young hot shot for some added responsibility. Unfortunately, he encountered some push back from the younger executive. He was finding the younger leader disagreeable with his ideas. “It’s as though he thinks he’s got to stand toe-to-toe with me,” said the senior leader. “I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve made a poor choice in putting so much confidence in him.”

I was between their ages. The senior executive hoped my experience, my demeanor (including my candor) and my age would work to benefit his young protege. I dug in talking with them together, then talking with them privately. I spent as much time as possible with the younger leader trying to figure out why he might behaving this way — and trying to figure out a way to help him.

It was clear from the outset that he didn’t want me to see any weakness or challenge. He had EVERYTHING under control. He had all the best ideas. He knew better than his team, his boss and he certainly knew better than me. Big rooms. Small rooms. It didn’t matter. He was determined to appear to be the smartest man in all rooms he entered.

I listened. I asked questions. I listened some more. It wasn’t hard. He was a talker – another trait I’ve seen in common with people who refuse help. They tend to fill silence, or they tend to create as much silence as possible. I’ve not found them to be middle-of-the-road when it comes to talking or not talking. They either do lots of it, or they don’t do much of it at all.

I told him how much confidence his boss had in him, explaining that my presence proved it. “I’m here to serve you,” I told him. He gave what he thought would be all the right answers. “Great. I’ll put you to work,” he told me. He’d launch into some specific work task as though I would be his personal assistant. I’d stop him and say, “I’m not here to do your work for you, or to do it with you. I’m here to help you with much bigger issues.” That’s when the “Who’s On First?” Abbott and Costello routine would begin. Lots of circle talking would drone on and I’d leave knowing I wasn’t breaking through.

Within months of my effort – my failed effort – he was gone, ditched by the senior executive who saw so much potential, but couldn’t get past the arrogance of a brash young leader with a very hard head. I saw what he saw. The young man had extraordinary potential. It would have been easier if he’d been completely incompetent.

Through the years I’ve seen that scenario repeated more often than I’d like. Nothing frustrates me more professionally than trying to help a person who would benefit from it – a person with skills, experience and know-how. Sometimes I encounter a person who is just over their head. Those people don’t frustrate me. They’re often just doing the best they can even though their best isn’t good enough. Those situations just need to play out sooner than later. But it’s those folks who could do so much better that make me sad. Like a drowning person who refuses a life-saver…you just want to coerce them to grab on and accept your help. But you’re helpless to help. And it sucks!

When Jack Welch was leading GE I got an invitation to attend a small gathering of people at a “meet and greet.” As Welch made his way around the room I knew precisely what I wanted to ask.

“How did a guy like you get to the top of GE?”

Welch quickly replied that he had a terrific boss who protected him and fostered his best.

And there it is – Welch accepted help. Jack Welch accepted help.

Sometimes I can tell the person refusing my help that story and they surrender, letting down their guard so I can begin to serve them. Most times they don’t. Most times they’re so dug in and committed to their posture that they just can’t seem to find a way to be human. Joining the rest of us is just not easy for them. No matter what help we may have needed – or may still need. No matter that Jack Welch needed and accepted help…they just can’t be like us. Mortal. Vulnerable.

It’s a mistake. To avoid vulnerability that will enable us to accept help. It’s a mistake for us to avoid seeking help.

It’s also the tell-tale sign of a low performer. Who cares if it’s insecurity, ego, pride or anything else? I don’t much care. I used to, but I’ve learned not to fret so much about it because the people who refuse help are mostly (not always and not entirely) not the people most capable of high performance. That’s because the highest performers are the most willing to do what must be done to elevate their performance. That’s the biggest ingredient of success – willingness.

I’m not diminishing skills and talents. But without a high degree of willingness those are just potential. I don’t know how to win with potential. I don’t know how to achieve anything with potential. Potential is just hope and hope won’t win anything. Hope needs action to become reality.

Just today I was hearing about a 2nd round MLB draft pick for the Texas Rangers who signed a $2M signing bonus. He’s a high school kid from North Carolina. Then there’s a 3rd round pick they made for a college kid from Duke. He got a $2M signing bonus, too. Four million dollars paid to two players who have potential, but have yet to play a single inning of major league ball. Will they pan out? I don’t know. The Texas Rangers don’t either. Not for sure. They’ve got good intel on these guys. They’re making a calculated investment, but right now they’re just paying for the potential of these two players. Time will tell if that potential is realized.

If both players put in the work, stay healthy and perform up to their ability — the investment will pay off. But if they party like foolish frat brats and aren’t willing to do what’s required to succeed at the major league level…they’ll bust.

You’re not likely going to get a $2M bonus based on potential. Professional sports and entertainment are fantastical. The rest of us live in the real world where the value proposition is very different. You were hired based on what you could do – or what your employer was led to believe you could do. You were likely promoted based on what you had done and what was expected you would do based on historical performances. Well, okay. That doesn’t sound unlike MLB…except for the $2M signing bonus part. 😉

You. MLB players. Entertainers. That willingness is still the common denominator to high achievement. Accepting or asking for help is another ingredient necessary for high performance. There are no self-made men or women. Everybody owes somebody for helping them along the way. Parents, teachers, coaches, trainers, advisors, managers, attorneys, accountants, trusted friends.

So what does all this mean? It means if you want to commit yourself to mediocrity or failure, refuse help. Go it alone. See how far you get. Go ahead. Try it. The high achievers will benefit by you not being part of the competition. You’ll just be one less person standing in their way of reaching their dreams.

So keep that scowl on your face. Embrace your misery as the smartest man in the room who never reached the heights of higher human performance.


Subscribe to the podcast

bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!

269 How To Work For a Jerk

How To Work For a Jerk - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 269

Vito Genovese, crime boss

You think you’ve got a jerk for a boss?

It’s all relative. From 1957 to 1969 you could have been employed by this guy, Vito Genovese, head of the Genovese crime family. I’m betting he was worse than any boss you’ve ever had. I know that doesn’t make you feel any better about your mean boss though.

This podcast is about higher human performance, especially in the areas of leadership, running effective organizations and operating profitable businesses. The Genovese crime family remains the most powerful and organized group in the country. According to newspaper accounts, barely more than a handful of family members have ever turned state’s evidence against the organization. Remarkable in a time when most crime families have been greatly damaged by multiple arrests and convictions brought about by insiders who turned against their bosses.

If your company or organization began sometime after 1931 then you’re not as old as the Genovese crime family. Charlie “Lucky” Luciano is credited with starting an organization that would take crime to new heights of profitability and efficiency. This September 10th, it will have been 84 years since Lucky created his own luck by murdering a man who was the reigning dictator of the group. He was autocratic and difficult, so Luciano conspired to knock him off. No, that’s not my answer to today’s show title. But it does show you how one tough boss can see the destruction in another yet overlook his own. History provides lots of stories of dictators – political and organizational – who knocked off their predecessors in one way or another, only to replace them with their own brand of tyranny.

It’s not tyranny when it’s your own behavior. 

Tyrants don’t much like working for tyrants. I suppose most tyrants don’t see themselves for what they really are though. However, I suspect I have no clue about such things when it comes to organized crime. I rather suspect crime bosses know the power of tyranny and embrace it. If murder, larceny, theft, drugs, prostitution and other crimes are your way of life…I don’t imagine you’re too terribly concerned with employee engagement or high morale. You’re not restricted by just whacking your competition or opponents, you’ll whack any of your own people who get out of line. Meanwhile, back at our ranch, we’ve got to go visit the Director of HR and make sure we’re being polite, respectful and professional. Vito had no such restrictions.

I’m a fan of good biographies. Come to think of it, I can enjoy a bad biography ever now and again. Like Vito’s story. Or Lucky’s. Bad people can give us great stories. But I’m not suggesting we emulate them.

Your boss is a jerk. A class A (and you know what the A stands for) jerk.

Maybe he’s a dictator. Maybe she’s autocratic. Maybe he’s not supportive. Or maybe she’s overbearing and judgmental.

He might be a yeller. She might be hateful. Maybe he’s belittling. Or she could be cold and lack any compassion.

Bad bosses come in all shapes, sizes, dispositions and genders. They’re not all created equal. Some peg a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Others are a strong 7. Or worse. Or slightly better. But a mean boss who is a jerk can also be a 1. They’re still jerks and counter to your well-being.

Mean Bosses Can Be Productive

The Mafia ManagerYou don’t want to believe that, but it’s true. Vito was effective. Mostly because you didn’t mess with him and live. When murder and violence are workable options it’s difficult to foil effectiveness.

We want to believe that jerks can’t succeed, or be effective leaders, but they can – and often are. That doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go. It just means we can’t be naive to think if people don’t do things with high character or integrity, then they can’t possibly be high achievers. Evil people can achieve spectacular results through their poor behavior. Drug lords do it. Crime bosses do it. Dictators do it. Hackers do it. Con men do it. Corporate titans do it. That doesn’t make it right. Nor does it mean they serve as the best template for high performance.

leadership-secrets-of-attilaBack in 1990 I was browsing through a bookstore – my favorite pass-time – and noticed this book, Leadership Secrets Of Attila The Hun. It wasn’t the first book of that sort. Won’t be the last either. People will read leadership books about most anybody or any strategy because many of us are constantly searching for better methods.

But today’s show isn’t about extolling the virtues of being a jerk leader…it’s about how to work for a jerk. 

I don’t advocate jerkdom as a good leadership model. If you’re a military dictator or a mafia crime boss then it suits your line of work. If you’re running a business or an organization with above board goals, then you’re going to need more integrity-based leadership tactics and styles. However, sometimes good people – productive people with high character – find themselves stuck working for a jerk. What can they do?

Here’s my disclaimer – don’t worry, it’s not much of one. One size won’t fit all. Jerks come in a wide variety of forms. Some are loud and brash, while others are passive-aggressive. Some holler, yell and carry on like madmen while others dispatch henchmen to do their dirty work. It takes all kinds. And you may have a jerk boss who is very different than somebody else. So let me first define JERK.

The jerk boss is somebody who is a constraint. They’re the bottleneck to productivity. They’re an impediment to innovation, progress and success. People would do better work if they didn’t exist. They may contribute some positive things, but their negative impact far outweighs any positive attributes they may have. Merely removing the jerk boss will likely cause productivity, morale and achievement to soar. The jerk isn’t just some impolite, rude behaving leader. They use power to abuse people. They feed their own paranoia with their position and authority.

I often sit down with people – one or one or in a small group – and inquire how the troops feel about the boss.

“Is he a constraint to your performance or a solution to your constraints?”

Put another way,

“Does the boss knock down roadblocks that get in your way, or is he a roadblock?”

That may not be how you think about the term, JERK, but it’s my definition.

Here are some suggestions to help you work for a jerk.

1. Don’t do it if you can help it.

This is easier if you have options. It’s also easier if you not only hate working for the jerk, but you hate the work you’re doing. I’m sad when I see a person who loves their work – they really enjoy what they do, and they’re very good at it – but they report to a jerk. That’s a tough spot and I have no easy answers for those people. Usually, I urge them to dive into their work, continue to take pride in their accomplishments and remain devoted to doing the best work possible.

Keep your job. Don’t quit.

Make plans to find an alternative.

Get busy chasing an exit option. Find another organization where you can do your work in an environment that fosters productivity.

DO NOT become jaded. Don’t fuss and fume. Don’t do it where you’re at – the current job. Don’t do it when you interview for a new job. You aren’t looking for a new job because your boss is a jerk. You’re hungry for a new opportunity with a high performance organization. Yes, you have to be politically correct. Nobody wants to hire a person who is bringing a sour outlook to the job. Nobody wants to hire a person who may appear difficult or onry.

2. Steer toward what you can do, not what you can’t.

Meanwhile, back at the work ranch, keep your head down. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself or your work. Be competitive and show your jerk boss that you’re going to do remarkable work no matter what. If you need a mantra at work, that’s it: NO MATTER WHAT. Do great work no matter what. Get along with others no matter what. Be an exemplary employee no matter what.

Hold your cards close to your vest. Don’t share anything about your search for a new job with any co-workers. Keep your mouth shut because you can’t afford the jerk boss to find out. People talk. Don’t give them anything to talk about. That includes spreading poison around the workplace. Venting to co-workers about your boss won’t help anybody. Complaining won’t help. Instead, contribute with positive suggestions of things you – and the team – can do to in spite of the problems presented by the jerk boss.

When the team is venting about the latest outbreak of yelling, be the person to step up and say, “Listen, we know what set him off. We weren’t all communicating clearly with each other and helping each other like we should. If we’ll make sure we’re all staying in the loop with each other then we may be able to prevent that from happening so frequently. Let’s start making sure we help each other more.”

It’s almost – not always, but almost – possible to steer a negative gripe session toward more positive actions. Be the person who does that. It’s not a rose-colored glasses thing. It’s far more realistic. Find realistic solutions so you and the team can focus on productive actions instead of complaining.

Remember, you can’t control your boss – jerk or not. You can only control yourself. And you can influence your co-workers. Commit yourself to make a positive difference. Any fool can lead a gripe gut parade. Don’t be that person. They have no value in any organization. They’re always – ALWAYS – a liability.

3. Find a vital friend.

I know I said to keep your mouth shut, but you need somebody – a person – with whom you can be honest. Find a vital friend at work. You’ve likely already got one. This is the person you can trust, a confidant. They may work as part of your team, or not. It’d likely be ideal if they were outside your team. That perspective can be helpful to you. NOTE: Make sure your vital friend isn’t a complainer, whiner or moaner. If they are, you’re going to be in big trouble having them as a vital friend. It won’t go well for you if you insist on making them your vital friend.

We all need a vital friend at work. Tom Rath wrote a great book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without. We all need vital friends in our life, and that includes at work.

Bounce things off them. Talk things over and ask for their feedback. Don’t just follow all their advice, but listen. Assess the situation and make your own decisions. Sometimes just being able to talk about it can help lower the frustration. Do not make it the focal point of your relationship though. You’ll quickly lose your vital friend if it’s all about you and your problems with your boss. Be a vital friend in return to them.

4. Serve your boss.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s important. Go back and remember the phrase NO MATTER WHAT. Your boss rose to power somehow. Assume that he or she is good at something the higher up’s see valuable. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Maybe it used to exist and it’s now gone. But just like you – and every other employee – who was hired, somebody saw something worthy of hiring the person. In the case of your boss, the organization saw something worthy of promotion. Or your boss is the son of the owner (in which case you need to really step up your efforts to find another job).

Failing to serve your boss will not end well for you. You’ll be tempted to think, “If I make my boss look good, then he’ll just get credit for our good work and stay the boss, or get promoted.” Maybe you’re right, but that kind of logic is too focused on the negative. And it’s foolish because you’re not considering your own career.

Do poor work, in hopes it’ll make your boss look bad and you’ll suffer for it. Bosses rarely pay any price for the poor performance of a subordinate. Bad strategy. Don’t employ it.

Don’t try to change your boss. That’s not your job. Your job is to serve your boss by doing great work, by keeping her informed and by being the most valuable employee possible.

Instead, commit to do great work NO MATTER WHAT. Do everything you can to serve your boss. If you can be a high achiever for a jerk, then you’re becoming somebody with high value. You’re making a positive difference while others are letting the jerk distract them. Not you. You’re focused on doing your best in spite of the difficulties. Developing those skills – and that mindset – will propel your career forward to new heights.

Life is full of challenges. No matter the purpose of your organization, there are hurdles and challenges that would foil success. Every organization needs people willing and capable of overcoming challenges to do superior work and deliver superior results. Be one of those people and you’ll have far wider choices.

5. Endure whatever you must for as long as you must.

Make a game of it. Jerks only win if they beat you down. Refuse to quit unless you’ve got a new job waiting. Refuse to do poor work. Refuse to complain or whine.

Your mental toughness will be tested. Embrace it. View the boss as a competitor capable of beating you if you slow down or stop. Don’t give in. Keep doing the right thing so you win. It’s not about making your boss lose. You can’t serve your boss with that attitude. You have to be committed to winning for YOU (and your family). It’ll demand all the focus and tenacity you can muster, depending how big of a jerk you’re working for.

Own your own performance. 

The best strategy is to do great work no matter what. Don’t use your jerk boss as an excuse for why you’re failing. Succeed anyway.

If a jerk boss foils your success, then you’re not valuable enough to be highly sought after. You’re among the big herd of people who claim they’d do good work if only this or that would happen. Or if only the boss would do this or that. The world is filled with excuse makers, complainers and whiners. Join them at your peril.

Stand apart from the herd by being exceptional. Prove you can do great work, even for a jerk, and imagine how valued you’ll be when you’re not working for a jerk.


Subscribe to the podcast

bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!

268 What Would A One-Week Work-Flow Diary Reveal About You? (A Powerful Tool To Improve Your Productivity)


What Would A One-Week Work-Flow Diary Reveal About You? (A Powerful Tool To Improve Your Productivity) - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 268

People who desperately need to lose weight are often asked by a nutritionist or physician to keep a food diary. Daily they write down everything they put in their mouth. It’s a powerful tool to show them the truth about how many calories they’re consuming. Most overweight people don’t realize how many calories they’re eating. The diary shows them the reality of where they are. It becomes a tool to show them how they can improve.

Your work-flow – your schedule – is a problem. Efficiency is never operating at full-strength in our lives. We can always do better.

Today, I want to encourage you to keep a work-flow diary so we can tackle the speed bumps that get in your way. Success is elusive enough when we’re chasing it with focused intensity. It’s impossible to find if we’re not taking the proper actions, and if we’re neglecting to take meaningful action consistently over time.


The pic many clients found funny

Consider how good it always feel when you look back at something you accomplished. Wouldn’t you love to have that feeling more? There’s no better time to start increasing the frequency of that feeling. Let’s do it now. Let’s start today!


Subscribe to the podcast

bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!