The gift I’m seeing is: a focus on the lack of real leadership in America. Millennials have been getting a bad rap for some time now. This deception and disinformation about millennials is mainly driven by the “Managers in Disguise” or executive members of the C team if you will, who are at the top of some organizational charts. These are the people in organizations who have obtained enough influence in the workplace to create the perception that millennials are bad for business. These Managers in Disguise are fighting tooth and nail to deflect all issues onto millennials in a pathetic attempt to hide their own leadership ignorance and incompetence.

I’m going to step out on a limb and say, millennials aren’t the problem, poor management is the problem. Millennials haven’t been around for centuries, poor management has. Millennials are a new challenge to a very old cultural management problem and it’s my belief that the millennials way of conducting themselves is going to expose the lack of real leadership problem in such a way that it will have to be investigated by real leaders. Of course, this investigation will in many cases be driven entirely by profits and not by principles but that’s ok for now, as long as it’s addressed. True leaders in each market will recognize and address the Managers in Disguise issue and in doing so will benefit from a larger market share due to their competitors’ unwillingness to change.

The general consensus is that millennials (Generation Y) are a difficult generation to manage which means, turning a profit with a bus full of millennials will be equally as difficult. It’s my position that every generation wants the same thing, they all want to work for an organization that’s headed in the right direction and they all want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than they already are. I believe Millennials are making a difference in ways not yet seen before; their unwillingness to tolerate Managers in Disguise and the status-quo is restricting corporate profits across America and inadvertently putting the focus on leadership or the lack thereof. I don’t think it could be any timelier if you ask me.

Millennials understand where the leadership gets its power from and that understanding has the Managers in Disguise flustered.  Generation Y has turned the tables on poor management, and through their actions, they have taken away any power over them poor management ever thought they had. If you think about it, organizations with poor management are the same organizations that do not perform exit interviews or have a perception or performance feedback survey program of any sort. Wouldn’t do the Manager in Disguise any justice to have a pile of negative exit interviews and perception feedback surveys lying around that could get caught up in an audit now, would it? Better to not offer them at all is poor management’s mindset.

Millennials are the first generation who is accustomed to getting what they want while Managers in Disguise have been here since the beginning of time and are not accustomed to giving people what they want. The dysfunctional dynamic here is clear. We need to stop buying into the narrative that millennials are bad for society because they’re not. They’re about to change society and possibly the workplace forever. Millennials were raised having their expectations met by helicopter parents and are accustomed to getting everything their parents never had. This is why they have no patience or tolerance for Managers in Disguise as leaders. Millennials would rather quit without notice than deal with a non-value-added confrontation. The high turnover rate associated with generation Y is driven by poor managers and their unwillingness to change with the times, not the young employee whose expectations aren’t being met.

My leadership book MANAGERS IN DISGUISE-LEADERS IN DISGUST addresses these not-so-obvious roadblocks to success and how to avoid them. Employee retention is a key part of all successful organizations and I’ll show you how to accomplish it. I encourage you to visit to continue investing in yourself by reading a few posts or purchasing a book and getting on the road to helping others as I’m attempting to do. The sooner we begin taking advantage of the wonderful gift that millennials are giving us, the sooner more Americans will be happier about going to work.

Your Leader’s Focus is All Wrong!

If you work in an organization that has people in it, your focus as a leader should be on the people first. Not to make them happy, but to do what is right. To develop your people, to train them, to make choices they may not like, but that are for their benefit in the long run. As long as the priority is the people, you will have a great chance of success. The most difficult part, it seems, is what to focus on after the people. This in not to say that even focusing on people is as simple as saying you focus on people. Within that, many philosophies explore this topic in detail. Perhaps you subscribe to Jack Welch’s belief that you concentrate on the top 20% and fire the bottom 10%. Or maybe you believe you need only focus on the bottom 20% in the hopes you can make them great. Either way, it’s best to focus on people first.

Outside of the people of your organization, what is the best area to place your focus? In the military, many ranking individuals have a hard time focusing on the core functions of the organization and instead focus on things that are sometimes, barely even relevant. Managers elevate in importance, dentist appointments, medical readiness, and physical fitness scores because they are easy to track. The problem with this is most of their organization’s managers, and leaders place much needed time and energy on these tasks instead of where they should be focused. Those tasks should align with the core function of the organization. If you are in the supply business, then how your people understand supply-chain, bench-stock levels and many other aspects to supply are incredibly more important than if your average fitness score moves from 84 to 89.

Take a look what your managers are doing and how they spend their time. Two questions you should always ask are: How well does this organization perform its core mission? And how can you prove it? If you turn to your Quality Assurance (QA) function for these stats, you are missing too much data to be very effective. The QA team can be great for identifying problem errors, but should not be sole measuring stick for the organization’s performance.

Don’t be fooled into only asking the above questions once; they will need to be constantly reviewed. Also, be prepared to hear how the organization is not performing as well as you may expect. We have a tendency to think we are doing better than we really are.

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When good employees leave good organizations, studies show, the number one reason for leaving is poor management. Notice, I mentioned “good employees,” because poor employees thrive in this environment. Even the most principled employee has his or her limit as to how much dysfunction they will put up with before getting off the bus.

An organization’s culture is driven by the amount of dysfunction the people who are in positions of authority/leadership are willing to put up with. Great leaders are so few and far between, it’s common to find “Managers in Disguise” at the top of the organizational chart keeping the organization from reaching its full potential.

A Manager in Disguise:

  1. Does not continually invest in himself or anyone else on the job or off. (Fine with the status-quo)
  2. Yells at employees to force influence. (Rules like he has the same authority as the employee’s parent)
  3. Believes that dressing the part will compensate for lack of leadership talent. (Superficial character)
  4. Doesn’t know what he doesn’t know about leadership. (Believes authority is all he needs to rule)
  5. Believes his affiliations are more important than his accomplishments. (Believes job security depends on how many       friends he has)
  6. Withholds information from employees to use it as power over them later. (Insecure in his position)
  7. Does not hold employees or himself accountable. (Indecisive and unwilling to confront insubordination)
  8. Plays favorites with assignments. (Consistently unfair behavior and choices)
  9. Talks to hear himself talk. (Talks over people with no intent to listen or understand others points of view)
  10. Offers incentives that spur short-term results instead of addressing the real problem which is his/her inability to lead which would add long-term value. (Attempts to buy influence instead of focusing on personal growth and earning influence)
  11.  Regularly takes credit for the quality of someone else’s efforts. (Deliberately refuses to recognize others accomplishments out of fear for his own job)
  12. Seizes every opportunity to grandstand in the presence of the boss. (Continually throws others under the bus to make himself look good)
  13. Set’s others up to fail in front of the bosses to make himself look good. (Master manipulator)
  14. Will never step aside to allow someone else to do what he cannot. (In it for the money, and doesn’t care about anyone else)
  15. Regularly asks others to do what he is not willing to do himself. (Hypocritical behavior)
  16. Asks business questions in front of others that he already has the answers to just so he can correct you when your answers are not the same as his. (Withholds information and the direction for the organization so you do not know the answers to his questions)
  17. Exhibit’s or has exhibited unethical behaviors. (Garners no respect or power)
  18. Does not put forth a quality effort for every hour on the job. (Expects everyone else to though)
  19. Onboard those he deems aren’t a threat to him. (Sophomoric hiring technique)
  20. Doesn’t believe training up his successor is a priority. (Attempting to ensure everyone knows how needed he is when he’s absent)

Lack of dissemination is self-incrimination. It’s my belief that the only answer to the “Manager in Disguise” dilemma is deliberate and proactive mass dissemination of content such as this even when it’s not yours. A leader’s job is to build more leaders, even on social media. This action will help your brand, not hurt it. Allowing employees at all levels of every organization, white collar, blue collar, governmental and private the opportunity to understand what to be on the lookout for and how to address it will make us all stronger.

Managers in Disguise will and are purposefully and aggressively suppressing content such as this in an effort to prolong their reign. It’s unfortunate that most employees will just have to wait for their Manager in Disguise to retire or their organization to get bought out before they have a chance to experience their organization’s true potential.

In this article, I have given you some things to think about and share, in my book MANAGERS IN DISGUISE-LEADERS IN DISGUST; you will find ways to address all of these issues. Get your copy today and help me help you and others.


You are the Standard of Performance

Your team’s performance will average around the leader’s standards. It is far too easy to say the team members are not performing to the standard, or they are poorly trained, or the supervisors are bad. But before any of that is evaluated, the leader must be looked at. When you are assessing the performance of a team the first place to start is the leader.

As the leader of a team or organization, your standard is the foundation for how the others will measure themselves and others. As you deploy your standards, the rest of the team will average around those standards. The leader needs to consistently evaluate themselves and ensure they never lower their standards just to make sure people can easily achieve them. But you must also be humble enough that you can admit it if your standards are too high. As I’ve written about previously, Perfection is dumb, and not a sustainable standard to expect. If you expect perfection, you can almost guarantee you need to adjust it. And it needs to be corrected quickly because the longer this expectation is allowed, the more demoralizing it becomes.

You will know if your standards are right when you have a few people that are not quite meeting them all the time, the majority meeting them consistently and a few others exceeding them regularly. As you get to this stage, you can increase the standards to move the team to a higher average.  You will also want to decide if those not meeting the standard consistently are worth keeping around.

Once the leader has established robust standards, he or she needs to evaluate the rest of the team. The leader needs to inspire the supervisors to hold high standards. The supervisors are the most important piece to this puzzle. They will be expected to take the leader’s standards and hold that line with the rest of the employees. When the supervisors are empowered and taken care of, they will perform to the leader’s expectations. Micromanaging them will only get them to do enough to not be fired.

The bottom line here is to know that your people will average around your standards, so if you have low standards, so will your people. Also, understand there will never be a time that everyone will always meet the standard, but you must hold him or her accountable and keep the standard high.

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Be Where Your Feet Are!

I was recently in a training class and there were just shy of 50 participants. There were 5 ‘participants’ that never looked away from their laptop. They were totally disengaged from the learning opportunity. They wasted their time, the instructors’ time and distracted from the learning opportunity. Their actions suggested they were busier and more important than everyone else in the room. Be where your feet are! Be in the moment, be present.

Zachary Davis wrote an article titled, How to Run a Meeting, he witnessed someone eating tacos during the meeting. This person was shouting I am here because I was told to be here. This person was not in the moment and wasted their time and caused a distraction for the team. What did this action represent? Is there a small crack in his leadership armor?

Leaders have to be ‘all in’ with extreme focus every moment they are with a team member. Leaders set the tone of this ‘be where your feet are’ mantra. Leaders must communicate this through actions and words. Reflection time: During your meetings either in person or video, is everyone engaged and focused on the task at hand? Do you need to take action? Let your actions speak so loud that they can’t help to hear your words.

This mantra is so important for parents as well. I see laptops open and heads dropped looking at phones during their children’s athletic events. What is most important right now? There are so many lessons to be taught by parents by observing and striking conversations but one must be in the moment, you must be where your feet are. At the dinner table, is the TV on, are the phones on the table, is the family present?

Take a moment to reflect. Zachary wrote in an article titled, What Makes a Great Leader, he made a good point, leaders must be self-aware. Whether you are leading at home or at the office, we must be where our feet are because somebody is always watching the leader.

Leadership is an active sport, get in the game.

How to Get Promoted

Everyone wants to get promoted. Even the people that say they don’t really do want it. They just may not be willing to do the work that is involved in earning the promotion. Most organizations prefer to promote within. It is a good practice to hire a person who understands and is accepting of the culture and knows the business well. In most cases, this will give you an advantage. Other times, they will want someone from the outside to provide a fresh, new perspective.

There are two critical keys to a promotion. Know what the organization values and who the gatekeepers are.

The most important aspect in getting that promotion is to figure out what the organization values. This is often not what “they” say they value. Look at what the managers and high-level leaders are talking about. What metrics do they track? What items are consistently communicated? Determining these values can be tricky, but it is important not to be fooled by cliché terms like, “work hard” and “give it your all.” Although they are important, working hard is the entry-level employee reason for promotion. Management positions require reading between the lines. Weekly emails from your manager about the training stats are a great indicator that training is important to the organization. If the monthly and quarterly award winners are the ones that innovate and drive change, then your organization probably values innovation and improvements.

Determine the gatekeepers and know what they need to give you passage. The gatekeepers are the people that can stop you from progressing. Everyone in the organization will have an opinion, but there are only a few that hold the real power to block a promotion. Your peers and others in the organization will probably have influence with the gatekeepers, but their influence is only effective if your actions leave room for doubt. Doubt about whether you are right or wrong for the promotion.

If you don’t value the same things your organization or the gatekeepers value then perhaps you aren’t in the right organization. Those things will change over time, but the big things you are passionate about should be a focus for the organization as well. In an ideal situation, the things you believe are important for promotion should also be what the organization values.

Once you identify the values another great piece of advice is to solve your boss’ problems. Don’t be a “yes man” or a “brown-noser,” but solving your boss’ problems will provide many benefits to you, most importantly, more autonomy in the future.

Key Success Factors in Project Management

Although the core concepts of project
management remain the same in terms of Time, Cost, Scope, Quality, Risk, there are some common practices that can influence the outcome of each project. Examples of those success factors are as follows:
Aligning strategy and projects to ensure that the project contributes to the organization’s strategic goals.
Understanding the project’s scope and
objectives will determine the amount of work needed to ensure accuracy and effectiveness of the project’s deliverables.
Identifying stakeholders early while also gaining their support, expectations, and agreement will improve the project’s success.
Involving the project team ensures effective communication and determines roles and
Tracking a project’s progress is a key performance measure.
Managing changes helps the project
manager to allocate resources accordingly.
Identifying risks enables the project manager to manage each risk and lessen its impact.
◆ Documenting key lessons learned as they occur allows the project team to apply those lessons during the project delivery.
Applying these success factors and best
practices in project management can
provide higher standards of performance in project delivery.
Project management is a team sport!

Skill vs. Will

My high school football coach would say, “is it a skill issue or a will issue?” I borrowed this question and the meaning behind it and applied to my leadership and management arsenal. My coach took a simple question and turned it into a mantra of our team. This mantra enabled freedom and that freedom equaled success.

Now there are many skill will coaching models and management tools allowing a manager to assess an employee’s skill and will. Through this assessment the manager now can find the best approach to take with the employee for the given situation based on the data from the tool, matrix, or model. This seems to over complicate a simplistic leadership and management tool.

The next time there is a safety incident, failed inspection, a broken operational process, lack of performance, or high performance. Ask yourself and the team ‘is it a skill issue or a will issue.’ This approach has allowed the teams I have been on to find the root cause of the problem or define why an individual or team had success. If we were approaching a problem we would quickly identify if the individual or team needed resources to increase their skill or if it was a will issue. If it was a will issue then the leader knew more coaching was needed to put the individual or team in a position for success.

Leadership is an active sport so get in the game!

How to Run a Meeting

Sometimes you’re sitting in a conference room, or your boss’ office and the meeting seems to drag on forever. There doesn’t appear to be a point to the meeting, and side conversations are going on. Perhaps the person running the meeting is eating tacos. (This happened to me today) Here are some things you should do and some you shouldn’t.

Have the right attitude. The right attitude is crucial to a meeting. If you call a meeting, respect your people enough to treat them well. They are not there to stroke your ego or tell you what you want to hear.

Keep it short. Everyone hates meetings, so keep them to 30 minutes if possible. When you schedule the meeting for an hour, they will fill the time. But when you set the time for 30 minutes your people will keep comments short and relevant.

There are ways to shorten meetings, but the best way to keep them short is to stay on task. Keep side discussions to a minimum and if other topics arise outside of the scope of the meeting, discuss the issue quickly or delay it for another time.

Be on time. There are few things more disrespectful than showing up to a meeting you called than being late. And if you can’t help being late, be honest and apologize. Also, it’s not good enough to apologize for being late if you are in the hall talking about football then you come in late to the meeting. It is very rude. Respect your people.

Plan the meeting. Planning for a meeting means you respect everyone else’s time.   If the expectation is for there to be input from others, send an agenda to the participants the day prior, so they have time to prepare as well. Or have a regularly repeated, standard agenda, so your people know what to expect.

Send it by email. If you are looking at standard metrics or information that does not need explanation and is for your information or so you can make a decision, have it sent to you by email and cut this part out of the meeting. There is no need to have people sit around and watch you review slides just to say, “next slide.” Doing so is a waste of everyone’s time. Review this information before the meeting and discuss what needs to be discussed during the meeting.

Calculate how much money your meetings cost. If you have 20 people in a meeting for one hour and the average hourly rate is $35 an hour, this one-hour meeting costs $700. The cost may vary, but do you really want to spend $700 in payroll for these people to sit and watch you review slides? Cut your meeting in half and invite only the people you need there to make decisions or provide the necessary information.

Recalculating (GPS for Organizations)

The all too familiar mantra of the GPS, recalculating! Life never works as planned and far too often people fight to stay on plan instead of recalculating and adjusting. If your organization or leaders are not agile and able to adapt, you are losing. Adjustments are the difference in life. Just like in sports, every time-out, every half time, after every scoring attempt, adjustments are made. Every time you plan on walking into the dealership “next month” to buy that new car, something unexpected happens, and you have to delay, or they don’t have the color you want or a million other things happen. Maybe you just worked out the details to the organization’s new training requirement or figured out why the new machine you acquired, isn’t working. All of this and more happen all the time.

Don’t get frustrated with these things. Get agile and flexible. These problems are what make great managers. Leaders need challenges to grow. One of the worst things one can do in these situations is to create an environment where your people hide the organization’s problems from you. Having a false sense of the performance of your organization will cripple you as a manager and leader. You cannot be all “hammer” and expect perfection of your people. If you do, they will turn to deception and hope you won’t find out to keep from facing the criticism of your expectations.

Don’t fight to stay on plan. When you realize that planning is not perfect and as changes come the plan must also be adjusted, your people will start to embrace these changes and the environment will be one of acceptance to the natural chaos of organizations. The culture will become one that embraces change and innovation and does not fight change simply because it is change.

Errors, mistakes, laziness are all opportunities to help your people become better. A simple change in how we view mistakes can make a giant difference to your people. The best opportunities are those that happen frequently. Errors that are made over and over again give you insight to what your people value. If they value a process, they will do it correctly. There are two ways to get them to value any process: Tie the process to the big picture and purpose of the work to positively motivate and inspire them to value the process. Or to make the consequences of not doing the right thing less desirable than the effort it would take to do the right thing. The latter is normally how managers operate. It’s how the majority of governments run, which is why laws have consequences, many are natural consequences others are deliberate.

Helping people see the big picture and inspiring them to value the process is much harder than simply making people fear the consequences. More often, you only make your people work hard enough and do a good enough job to not get fired. Inspiring them takes time and starts with a deliberate decision to go that route. Once that has been done, you need to learn what your people value and figure out ways to tie those things to the big picture, which will get them to feel like their effort is worth it.