Lying Leaders and Smart Staff


I can bet everyone reading has witnessed live presentations either in person or by phone where their senior leadership get up and espouse a bucket of lies while spinning a narrative that doesn’t exist other than in this leader’s mind. The staff sits and listens to the words and must control their laughter in the reality gap.

These leaders want to believe things are working well, and so they feel that if they speak as if it is going well that somehow the reality is different. They know dang well that what they are saying is not based in fact, but rather in fantasy. But could they really come out and say, “our culture is changing and not in a good way.” Well, yes they can and yes they should.


Imagine you are in the audience of your company and listening to the CEO talk about the company.

(Imagine that each of the thoughts in the parenthesis below is your thoughts.)

CEO: “Everyone is excited about the upcoming merger and is looking forward to the company’s expanded capabilities” (Maybe you are since it was announced you are being retained, but we have not been told if we have jobs.)

CEO: “Our New Training Department is up and running with new programs available to all employees.” (And when is this going to happen, because it is not happening now?)

CEO: “The results of the employee opinion survey were all positive with improved scores over last year.” (They must not be including my feedback this year.)

CEO: “We have some of the best managers at all levels that are respected by their staff and work well with others.” (Have you met most of the managers around here?)


In my travels in the world of Performance Improvement, I have found very few honest leaders. Most feel they need to project a vision rather than speak about reality. If they only realized that this sends a false message that they are happy with how things are working now so there is no need to change.

99.9% of employees know when they are being lied to, and each time it happens the leader loses more credibility and respect. Each time a leader lies they send a direct message to staff that they are too stupid to know better so no harm no foul.

Have you ever noticed how some leaders last longer than others? I’m not talking success necessarily, but I am talking about length of service. The honest ones do better and last longer than the lying ones.

Make a list of your leaders and divide them into two columns with those that lie to me on one side and those that tell the truth even if it means delivering bad news on the other side. Now, which column of names do you respect more?

59 And All Washed Up!


I had a delightful young lady that according to her LinkedIn profile just graduated from High School and had been a recruiter for less than 90-days, tell me that I job I could do in my sleep was not something I was being considered for because of my “age”! When I said, “I beg your pardon?” she replied, “let’s face it, your time has passed by, you are too old for this kind of work.”

Aside from being floored at the ignorance of this women’s understanding of discrimination in the workforce, I had to wonder if she just wasn’t being honest. She said what so many other employers have not said, that at the ripe old age of 59 I am all washed up.

Yes I could create all sorts of havoc in this company and no doubt get her fired, but I see no purpose in that process. The company will continue to discriminate and this young lady will only learn that being truthful with applicants is not the way to do business.

Now while this is the only time someone has come right out and said it is my age that disqualified me, I have to wonder if it isn’t the reason so many other companies have passed on my application. They land up hiring people with little to no experience and I have to wonder if they are just playing a game of chance, or they simply do not care how a training function will operate. It could be more of a matter of window dressing than actual outcomes.

Many companies have productive and focused learning functions, but many more have nothing more than a warm body that produces very little in any given year. These management teams either don’t want learning to be a focus, or what I believe, they have no relevant experience themselves with what a high output training function should be doing for their paycheck.

You have heard the phrase, “garbage in garbage out” I’m sure. It is the same with hiring unqualified people, or expecting the same results out of a function with weak and incompetent leadership.

The way I see it I have a couple of choices. I could dye my hair and get a face lift and then dummy down my resume. Or, I could retire early and throw in the towel. Your focused feedback would be appreciated.

Is Your Manager a Vacation Grinch?


For most Americans, looking forward to vacation is part of the way they cope with their work environment. If you work for a wacky company, or a dipstick manager, vacation may be your only solace from the insanity and you look forward to the eventual escape.

Some managers hate to allow staff to go on vacation because it causes short staff issues. You may even work for a company that all hell breaks out every time someone is out sick, or takes a leave of absence, or is on vacation.

While vacation is an earned benefit right along with your salary, some managers like to play Grinch with the approval process. Your employee manual may encourage vacation notice in advance as possible to allow for planning around the absence, some managers prefer to wait until the last possible minute to approve vacations because they are uncertain if it will cause damage to the operation.

I came from the banking industry, and I will say that if something can happen to cause stress to staffing in any given week it will. It is just part of the random nature of how busy you can get. You can have a full staff and hardly any customer comes in that day, and when you are down to the bare minimum the line of customers will be out the door. But to withhold approval for an employee’s vacation because of the unknown is just a sign of immature management.

Unless you are taking a “Staycation” where you are staying home, most people have reserved flights, hotels, cars, cruises, or tours in advance. Money is rarely refundable, so the employee seeks vacation approval before they book a vacation. To expect an employee to eat the cost because their absence from work would cause a shortage at the last minute is absurd. Yet we hire absurd thinking managers all the time!

Take one gentleman in particular. He is verbally approving vacations, but is withholding a written acknowledgement of the vacation request until he is certain it would cause no disruption to the office. If they need this employee to work, the employee must cancel their vacation plans, eat the non-refundable costs and show up to work. If they choose to take vacation they will be terminated for job abandonment.

Today’s economy does not allow us to disregard employees, as they can find another job a lot easier than 3 years ago. At-Will-Employers must always keep in mind that they hire At-Will-Employees that can leave you without notice just like you can let them go without notice. Withholding vacation is a great way to irritate any employee and force them to play the resignation card. Human Resource Directors that discover Vacation Grinch Managers within the company should consider finding them a new career opportunity.

If You Can Retire, Should You Retire?

Work Retire

While financial considerations often drive the timing on when to retire, if you have planned well and saved enough for retirement, the list of considerations can be lengthy.

  • Will you have something to do with those 40+ hours a week you used to work at a job?
  • What will my family think if I retire?
  • Where are your friends now, at work or retired?
  • Are you healthy?
  • Will you have access to health care insurance if retiring earlier than Medicare age?
  • If you would like to continue working, why are you thinking about retirement?

Today I want to spend time on this last bullet. Too many people leave the workforce “to retire” because working is no longer rewarding. Sometimes they want to work but can’t find employment that is challenging or provides purpose.

Let’s talk about this age thing when it comes to being employed. Age discrimination DOES exist in fact it is alive and flourishing. Even older managers discriminate in their hiring by passing on anyone over 50. Older Workers will cost more. Why, because they are experienced? Oh, we wouldn’t want to hire someone that could do the job, let’s focus on hiring people with just potential for half the price. No pun intended, but this gets old after a while and even the strongest job seeker gives up after being passed over for jobs they are qualified for but never get interview time.

So how about liking your work, but not being energized anymore. Is there a possibility of a switch in jobs at your employer? Or could you be self-employed and you can’t seem to generate enough business to keep you energized?

I’m in this last section myself. I love selling travel and vacations, but can’t find enough people that take vacations and spend money on vacations. Which is amazing since it is a huge industry! Just look at how many cruise ships alone there are, let alone hotels and resorts! I have 1000+ social media contacts, and only a small few have asked me to help them secure a vacation. I have a lot of relatives and friends and none of them have booked a vacation with me in the past 2 years!

So like many that wonder should I retire, I too am about to throw in the towel. I can retire; I just don’t want to retire. But I’m beginning to realize I may not get to choose.

Responsibilities of the Hiring Manager

990  How often does the hiring manager take responsibility for their choices? I mean, have you ever seen a hiring manager that in order to save salary money, hired someone that lacked the skills to perform the job and took responsibility for their failure? Hardly ever do you witness this, but you do see pointing fingers of blame toward the new hire.

When I got my first opportunity to become a Training Director, I had the necessary skills in learning development, but I had never assumed a single role that required using everything I knew how to do. So while I had the necessary skills, I lacked relative experience leading a function. My manager realized this, yet didn’t short me on salary, and as I proved his decision correct, my salary continued to grow. What he realized is that I had the skills, and his gut said I could pull them all together to do this job. I had some rough spots but guess who was there to support me?

Okay, so let’s say you hire someone to build a training function, and their only skill set is facilitation. They have no formal instructional design skills, and have never done needs analysis, organizational development or performance consulting. That is a lot to expect this person to do, since they simply lack the experience and skills to perform. They expect this person to interact with senior management, but they have never done that in all their work history. They expect this person to manage the function, the processes and a staff, and they have only had a little supervisory experience.  This has already happened this past week in a company.

Next week in my blog at I will continue this discussion from a different angle, for when this happens in the training function. The dangers of hiring limited experience invite expensive lawsuits. Yet if the hiring manager is taking responsibility for their hiring decisions, most issues can be reduced.

Why Are We Connected?


Isn’t it amazing how many people we connect with on Social Media platforms and have no idea why? LinkedIn at least tries to describe their purpose as Social Media for Professionals, a networking tool, and even an online resume. But if you take a glance at the list of your connections, you got to ask yourself, why we are connected to so many of these names.

When I first got online with LinkedIn I was in the Learning Development profession and looked for collaboration from my peer group. Later when I became a consultant I looked to these same people as resources for work and referrals. While only a handful of connections reached out to support me, I always felt I could help others flourish. I made referrals often but after awhile I realized I was not getting any benefit playing this role.

At one point I started to disconnect from those that knew me well but after 10 years or more never reached out for help and I figured never would. Then one of my contacts noticed and asked me why we were no longer connected. He was actually hurt, so we reconnected and I immediately stopped scrubbing my connections.

A few years later when I started to sell travel I began to believe that everyone was a potential client because everyone takes a vacation. I couldn’t have been more wrong! After 18 months, and a zillion postings, I’ve had 2 clients from this source. While it is not a zero level of support, it is close.

So why are we connected? If I can’t do anything for you and you can’t do anything to help me, what is the purpose? LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that doesn’t meet my expectations. Yet Facebook filled with family and friends is no better. Twitter is just a chance to comment on everything going on, and Instagram is for storing your pics online.

Something either doesn’t work as advertised, or I do not understand the whole social media concept. Your thoughts are appreciated.


Are Servant Leaders Becoming Extinct?


In a world where everyday interactions becoming a series of activities that promote your value over helping others achieve success, I wonder if Servant Leaders are becoming extinct.

With a lot of leadership styles to choose from, I glommed on to Ken Blanchard’s work almost 30 years ago as something I could understand, remember and implement because it aligned well with what I was sort of doing without a guidebook. It was easier back then to be a Servant Leader because I had a lot of role models. Now granted I had a lot of the dark side cousin, Self-Serving Leaders, as role models too, but I saw that style as a losing proposition.

In the past 15 years, Self-Serving Leaders have taken over most of the management roles in corporate America, and in their midst of self-promotion have left carnage in their wake. It is tougher to be a Servant Leader in a corporate culture that rewards self-serving activities more. It used to be a self-serving leader was called out for their behaviors but now they are ignored, or worse, out of fear they are supported.

I bet there is a self-serving leader in your company that you can identify because they do everything to promote themselves, while they work overtime to diminish the value of others. In fact it is this last point I want to emphasis in this blog today.

This individual will often performance manage other employees around them in order to build up themselves as being indispensable. If the only person left standing that knows their job is the Self-Serving Leader, then mission accomplished! It doesn’t matter if you are a subordinate, peer or the manager; you must never come off knowing more than they do. They want to be feared and often they are, so they remain the center of attention.

Servant Leaders are more productive and have less time to play games, especially defense. They will fight to protect their team members, yet often lose their own battles with the dark side.

The only times I see Servant Leadership completely win out over Self-Serving Leadership is when the top boss in a Servant Leader. They simply do not tolerate the disruption of the Self-Serving Leader and eliminate these people. Ask any CEO that is a Servant Leader if they have Self-Serving Leaders in their organization and they will either say No, or yes but not for much longer. Powerful!

I hope you have had the privilege to have worked with at least one Servant Leader. Chances are all of you have had a Self-Serving Leader in your career. Share in the comments the pluses and minuses you have experienced. But please don’t use their real names.