The Boss is dead. Long live the Boss!

deathEveryone has a boss. And wouldn’t life be so much better if we didn’t have one. Right?

Common wisdom in most companies is that people don’t leave the company they leave the boss. Bosses have a huge impact on our day-to-day happiness. A bad boss can make you crazy and ridiculously unhappy.

It is no surprise then that some of the most “out there” thought leadership in the area of company design is to do away with bosses! Who needs them? There are some wonderful examples of companies who have grown their organizations with people self-managing. These companies (Buurtzorg in Amsterdam, Heiligenfeld in Germany, Morning Star in the US) are breaking ground in this area and sharing their lessons with anyone interested. Continue reading

The Goal of Working is Not Retirement

I was in the dentist chair getting some work done and as always my dentist asks questions when both of her hands are in my mouth and somehow I am expected to answer. The question on this day was innocuous enough, “How is work?”  I replied enthusiastically, “Great!” – or at least that is what I tried to say.   Then I realized she probably asked everyone the same question.  After I finished rinsing at the end of my appointment I asked her how most people reply. She said, “Most people hate their job, hate their boss and dread going to work!”.  WOW!  That is just sad.scared-dentist

If you ask your friends you might be able to replicate this result.  Disengagement is the norm and has been for a while.  We might not be actively disengaged, that is sabotaging things, but disengaged nevertheless.  According to Gallup’s annual survey the percentage of people who are engaged is 30%.  Less than one out of three people in the average company are engaged!

So, is this why retirement is such a big goal? Is it the freedom we seek?  Does it signify the end of the pain of work?  Are we meant to endure years of torture so that one day we can have the life we really want?  Is it really that bleak?  And what scars do you have physically and emotionally from 30-40 years of this?

We, of course need to make money to pay our bills and to live in this world.  Earning a good living is important to providing for our loved ones.  So, working in some fashion is a requirement.  Where you choose to work, however is a choice.

I was reading about Roma Mouldings ( this morning.  The President of Roma is Tony Gareri.  His story is interesting.  Growing up in the family business he was taught that work is not fun.  And it wasn’t.   But when he took over the business he decided that work could be something more uplifting and he set out to prove it.   If you want to read more about Roma Culture and Values follow the link.  My point is this:  There are lots of crummy companies you can work for and the experience will be like going to the dentist(with apologies to dentists).  But there are companies who make it their mission to create great workplaces.  Roma Mouldings focuses on WoW Customer experiences and those cannot be delivered unless the people who work at Roma are in a WoW work environment. Continue reading

What is Servant Leadership?

leading1What is Servant Leadership? Robert Greenleaf famously coined this term in 1971 and even 40 plus years later it stirs up negative connotations.  For some it conjures up the idea that leaders become super-followers of the wants of the people they are supposed to lead – the veritable dog being wagged by the tail.  Most images of leadership are very much oriented around the warrior leader – the one standing out front leading the charge.   In this context it seems obvious that leadership can’t be servant-oriented.  But let me explain why it is.

Servant leadership is not a leadership training program – it is a journey of steps and not a binary switch that can be turned on or off.   And, it is most definitely not about doing what your people are wanting you to do.  Unfortunately, Servant Leadership can’t be learned in the traditional sense and this, more than any other reason is why it is so hard to develop.

In order to set this up we have to set a framework for the makeup of the human being. It is the framework that helps us to understand the journey.

Each of us is made up of 5 components:

Continue reading

Why am I so Dumb at times?

man_in_bird_cageHave you ever had a huge problem that completely consumed you?  That is, you thought about it day and night for days or even weeks but couldn’t solve the problem, riddle or challenge?   It happens to me all the time when I go to my intellect seeking the answer to a problem.  And, then, when I am fed up with the problem – ready to give up – I will be home from a run or standing in the shower or sitting in the back yard and WHAM the perfect answer hits me.  It was there all along!  How did I fail to see it?  “Why am I so dumb?”,  I would think to myself.

Let me explain what is going on here, because I believe that we all can activate this process more methodically if we just learned how to do it.  Interested?

First, if we are able to take a panoramic view of life on this planet it wouldn’t be hard to summarize the entire story of evolution as a story of consciousness.  We are all on a march of awareness and life’s experiences are where we first identify then practice these new “knowings”.

Martin Muller in his book, Prelude to the New Man (Published by Santa Fe Associates, 1978) describes our Continue reading

The 5 Problems with Sales Commissions

We take for granted that sales people must have incentive-based compensation. They are often out on the road and unsupervised and as a result we have set up a system that pays for performance. We feel that results-based compensation is the only way to motivate these people.

But is this conventional wisdom correct? No, and I will explain why.

Richard Barrett, founder of the Barrett Values Centre had an inkling that Mazlow’s hierarchy of need would be extremely useful as a framework. His unique insight was that values could be associated to each of the levels in that hierarchy. So, by asking a person what is important to them we could identify where that individual was at in their own evolutionary journey.

Here is a simple diagram of the Barrett model and how if evolved from Mazlow.


Continue reading

Upside Down Org Charts


It might sound funny but the way you present your organizational chart says a lot about the way your company culture works.

It is quite usual to present the org chart like this:

org chart standardWhen presented in this manner it is obvious that the weight of the whole organization is resting on the customer.  Not a bad image.  The weight of the management structure is unfortunately resting on the front line employees.  The pressure for success and results relies on the whole management structure getting the front line employees to perform. Satisfying customer expectations and the expectations of a whole management infrastructure is challenging because customers are unlikely to tell sales people or customer service agents what they want to hear.  They have their own agenda and they are independent.  The drive for progress, set from the top and driven down the corporate hierarchy ends up with goals and objectives that front line employees are…

View original post 668 more words

Self-Concern is a Virus

and it is Contagious!

rotten apple

We can all relate to this – when someone around you pulls out their phone and checks their messages…do you find that you have this unconscious impulse to pull out your phone and check if you have any emails or messages too?

This is the way it is with Self-Concern.  When we are in the presence of someone that is fired up on self-concern it activates that part of us that asks, “Should I be concerned too?”  Self-concern is worry about the self.  Self-concern is fear based and related to how our personalities see their job in keeping us safe in the world.

In this mornings Wall Street Journal there was an article titled “What Corporate Climbers Can Teach Us“.    The author describes research done at Binghamton University that looked at the personality traits of successful corporate climbers and the results are surprising except for those of us who have wondered how ‘so-and-so’ ever got promoted.   Psychologists have a name for the following behaviours:  manipulativeness (a tendency to influence others for selfish gain); narcissism (a profound self-centredness); or an antisocial personality (lacking in empathy or concern for others).  These three traits are known as the Dark Triad. Continue reading

The Annual Re-Org

Simple organizational structure

How funny is it that we think that every year the solution to problems in our business are to be found in reorganizing departments or changing who reports to who?

I know companies that spend months re-organizing and the people in those companies know it will happen again like clockwork next year.  We just seem to put up with it as a “thing” that has to be endured.  If you type “reorganization” into google you find many articles about the 3 ways or the 18 ways to survive your company’s reorganization.

In some cases reorganization is a euphemism for layoffs.  To be fair, companies are under intense pressure to perform and re-ordering the business can have beneficial effects.  New leaders look at things differently than leaders of the past and they are more like to make change happen.  But, think back to the re-orgs you have been part of – do you remember feeling more productive or was it months of confusion followed by some new equilibrium followed by another re-org?

Continue reading

The Role of Meditation


The acquisition was final!   Now came the hard part.  Buying the company was a difficult and detailed process.  But, it was nothing compared to the challenging process of integration.

We had decided to be clear about our intentions to retain all of the employees by giving them a written offer that confirmed the details of their employment.  Offer letters were delivered to managers to present to their direct reports.  The senior managers had been part of this decision because they were disclosed during the due diligence process.  But middle managers had not been in the loop.

You probably already know that the process went badly.  Every sentence was scrutinized in the offer letters.  What wasn’t said was read with foreboding.  And within days the process was a disaster almost ready to happen.  It would be pointless to share all of the details because they aren’t really the point of this story.  Let it suffice to say that a multi-million dollar acquisition was about to go very badly if we didn’t get people on board.  And, I was the guy who was responsible for making it happen. Continue reading

The Need for Service


charming door

Ok, I have to admit that I am a sucker for service. How about you?  Do you go out of your way to buy from companies where service quality is obviously important?  Does it mean that you are paying more for this?

I have been shopping for a new front door for our house over the past few weeks with my wife.  Using my internet savvy I perused multiple websites to get some basic ideas and from there selected 4 companies to contact.  What a gong show.  Some websites didn’t work.  Some had nice forms for me to fill in but required agents to call me to ask questions that should have been on the form.  Others never called me. Continue reading