Pattern Clash: When The Jerk At Work Meets The Jerk At Work

“I work hard” he muttered. I could barely hear him.

“You do WHAT?” I asked.

“Work hard. I told you, I work hard.” It seemed to him like no one ever really listened.

He went on to say that he was sick of spending his nights correcting his boss’s awful grammar for her reports that had to go out the next day. She was always late with her reports and always had a ‘do it now’ attitude.

“I am a communications expert, not a third grade teacher” he complained.

“Did you ever tell your boss about your frustrations?” I was just getting to know his vulnerable points in this first leadership development coaching session.

“You can’t tell her anything. No one can. You just do what she says and stuff your thoughts and feelings.”

“What do you think would happen if you said you needed time for yourself, for your family in the evening and would appreciate if her reports were sent to you in a more timely fashion?”

“I would get fired.”

“How long have you been with the company?”

“I have been here for eight years” he said with deep pride.

“And you would get fired, just like that?”

“She is and always has been a bully. She is and always was loud and a know it all. She is and always was the one to demand that it was her way or the highway.”

OK, you got the picture? A demanding boss and a subservient director of communications. A bully and a victim. Do either of these patterns resonate with you?

In the employees eyes the boss is a jerk at work. In the boss’s eyes the communications director is the jerk at work.

Will the real JERK AT WORK stand up?

Naughty Can Become NICE

  • Sylvia Lafair
  • December 16, 2014

The road was slick from the rain. I did not want to complain because the Bay Area needs to fill up its rivers and reservoirs as fast as possible. None the less, when a car swerved just a bit too close for comfort I shouted out from that place inside that activates stress “Watch out you jerk.”

My nine year old granddaughter said simply, “Grand-mom that was not very mindful. When we get home I’ll do some of the mindful meditations we learn in school with you.”

And we did.

We began by showing compassion for all things great and small. We studied an orange and appreciated its beauty and smell and the good health it brings us. We looked at a flower, we ran our fingers over a book and on and on.

Leadership Development: SHUSSSSH Don’t Rock The Boat

Imagine a world where bringing up unpleasant or conflictual subjects is applauded. Imagine if in school good grades were based on asking the unaskable. Just imagine.

Where would YOU fit in that kind of setting? Would you be one to ask “Hey, why is the emperor naked?” Or would you be one to put your hand to your lips and say “Shussssh!”

You want to know where our general discomfort started with asking tough questions. It began way back when you were a little tyke and you saw your mother or care giver in a bad mood. You KNEW something was wrong, you could just feel it. And you asked “What’s the matter?” And the response more times than not was “Nothing! Just go play.”

If you persisted you were called a trouble-maker. And if you just went away you were called a helpful, good child.

Now fast forward to adulthood. You are now in charge of leadership development training at your organization. What do you do when someone persists in asking the questions that no one wants to tackle?

Talk Of Torture Timely For Leadership Development

What a bummer that Angelina Jolie will miss the opening of the film “Unbroken” that she directed. Sadly, she missed the chicken pox as a kid and has to break out and itch as an adult.

However, the timing of this film is placed perfectly. With Dick Cheney in great confidence saying he did not think that our country used torture and John McCain taking an opposite view we can get beyond the verbiage to see what torture looks like in Jolie’s film.

In one interview Jolie was asked if she thought the film would pave the way for a summit on torture in war zones.

Her answer was not that of a mediocre actress and a “spoiled brat” as someone said on the Sony tapes. It was the response of a mature woman who wants to make a difference.

“The intention of the film and the message of Louis’ story is about the resilience of human spirit, faith, brotherhood and forgiveness. However we review history and how it affects us today, we have to look at it with a clear mind and an open heart. And it’s not about just having judgment, it’s about trying to understand each other and how we are planning on moving forward together.”

Thank you Angelina. This is the same underlying message that is in “Don’t Bring It to Work”. Too many people think that work is “torture” and there are not enough dialogs about understanding each other and moving forward together. Maybe “Unbroken” will open a door for more and more discussions of what really matters to us as human beings.

Is Holiday Stress Following You To Work?

How do you get year-end work done, prepare for family gatherings and stay in a happy mood when all you want to do in the morning is pull the covers over your head?

That’s a question I get asked starting the day after Halloween non-stop till New Year’s Eve becomes a dull memory in early January.

Why is there so much stress and frustration during this time of tinsel and mistletoe? Is it that way for everyone? So many say it seems impossible for the end of the year to be fun and easy. And yes, that’s just about for everyone.

Here’s a core reason. Most of us either want to remember the holiday season from childhood with rose colored glasses, or if it was a really tough time, we are determined to put those glasses on now to make better memories.

The problem is, reality has a way of coming in and throwing some curve balls. You know like:

The electricity goes out right before Christmas dinner and the turkey is only half cooked.
You favorite sibling brings some friends to camp out at your place for “just a few days” and it’s now over a week.
The forecast for a few inches of snow turns into the blizzard of the century.
Keep reading.

Turkeys And Eagles

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was not all that thrilled having the Bald Eagle as our national symbol? He much preferred…TADA…the Turkey!!

So as you are celebrating this day of Thanksgiving think about the noble bird that could have been on our currency instead of on the table!!!

Here is a letter that Franklin wrote to his daughter about the bird debate. Enjoy.

Franklin’s Letter to His Daughter, Sally, a.k.a. Mrs. Sarah Bache (excerpt)

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

“With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country…

“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

They Are ALL Our Children

Years ago I was in Brazil for a conference. It was wonderful looking up at the “Christo Redentor” that is so much a part of Rio. It was fun sun bathing and walking along the famous Ipanema beach.

I also had an opportunity to go inland to some of the mines where the crystals are in vast supply. I lugged back a large amethyst crystal that sits in my office as I write this.

Along with the fun and excitement of Brazil was the dismay of the street children. It was overwhelming and I wanted, as many do when they see this type of misery, I wanted to take them all home with me. I wanted to start a charity. I wanted to open a school.

And I came home and did nothing.

And yet I can feel the sadness returning and my frustration seething as I look at the fact that now, right now, in this land of so much wealth that 2.5 million children were designated as homeless this year.

Here. Right here.

4 Rules For Great Leading During The Holiday Season

Imagine yourself as the most loved leader in your organization. Imagine being honored at a dinner for your skills and talents. What would they say about you? How would you respond?

Leading a team and getting your direct reports to really, really want to get follow you takes lots of deep internal understanding of yourself. As a great leader you set the standard. You do not shy away from conflict, in fact you show others how to maneuver through difficult situations and come out of the tough talks with new and creative ideas.

Great leaders know that the time between Thanksgiving and the New Year has a whole set of problems that usually blend work and family more than any other time of the year. The best leaders understand that when stress hits the hot button there is a tendency to revert to behavior we learned in our original organization, the family to solve problems. Often, becoming like little kids who need more encouragement and appreciation.

Get Ready For Thanksgiving 2014!

  • Sylvia Lafair
  • November 21, 2014

Thank you to, Jeannie Mecorney, a Total Leadership Connection graduate, for sending me this fun ditty to launch the holiday season.

I belong in the “vegan camp” this year. Our 9 year old granddaughter is a staunch vegetarian and we are leaning more and more in that direction. So, I will let you know what great and unique menus our daughters come up with.

Have a happy and thankful day next week, regardless of what you eat. Enjoy the song.

Safe Spaces, Hot Spots And What If

Waiting in Ferguson Missouri. Waiting for the judge to hand down the decision. Waiting to see if there will be violence or calm. Waiting to see how justice is served.

Waiting to see if there can be anything new and helpful that will come out of how the people of Ferguson handle a tense and difficult situation.

The issues here go beyond the shooting of one young man and the power of the police. The issues are about how we, as human beings get along, work together, and make change happen.

What an important time to do some leadership development training. What a perfect venue to get past the “us” versus “them.”

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