Month: August 2011

I’ll Pay You To GO AWAY…

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What does Leadership have to do with Reality TV?  A LOT… Think about it, who would’ve ever thought it would explode into a multibillion dollar industry?!  This genre of television leads the broadcast and cable networks as having one of the most loyal of all fan bases.  Now before I go into a tirade, I will admit there are a few reality TV shows that I DO watch. I’ve always been a fan of COPS. There’s nothing to get the adrenaline pumping like watching a great car chase go down! Add to my list American Idol & America’s Got Talent (I love to find undiscovered music for my iTunes library), Intervention (I cry more times than I would like to admit) & Gene Simmons Family Jewels(they just crack me up!). That being said, there is an overwhelming glut of Reality Trash TV on the cable and broadcast airwaves these days. It makes celebrities and influencers out of people with no talent & less class.

Jersey Shore is a perfect example. These kids personify many in their MTV culture, spending most of their days fixated on how to bring themselves one more party experience. The cast members are totally self focused, and their lack of concern as individuals and as a group should be embarrassing to them and to their generation. What these brainless overgrown adolescents don’t realize is the impact that their choices and actions have on the teenagers obsessed with watching their show. I’m not really sure they would care if they did know.

But retailers and corporations DO understand the influence that those in the media have on the bottom line of products, especially the products they use and/or endorse. So isn’t it interesting that Abercrombie & Fitch to offer to pay Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino of “Jersey Shore” fame NOT to wear their branded clothing. The New Albany, Ohio company released a statement Tuesday evening titled “A Win-Win Situation,” in which it stated a “deep concern” over the association between Mr. Sorrentino and the brand. A&F offered up a “substantial payment” to Mr. Sorrentino “to wear an alternate brand.”

WHAT??? They want to pay him to disassociate himself with their clothing and their brand! The statement went on to say, “We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.” What seems to be happening is simple… his life, his reputation and his actions have caused him to become an “unleader” for Abercrombie & Fitch. Evidently you can be so worthless as a human being, that regardless of how popular or famous you are, you are more of a liability than an asset. Your influence of a leader not only drops to 0, it goes into negative territory.

So the question begs to asked, “What are those qualities of a person in our organization are so unacceptable, so negative, that we would rather a person possessing them not even be associated with us?” Differences and individuality are the spice of life, to be sure. I’m not advocating that we all become a bunch of lemmings or drones either. But for most of us, we draw the line somewhere. Maybe several “somewheres”. Some behaviors, attitudes and actions can be so detrimental to the group or cause that the benefit that an individual might bring is totally negated, and even more damage than good is the result. So how do leaders face these challenges?

Clarify– Leaders set the tone for the culture within which they lead. They articulate the values and the acceptable behaviors and practices of their employees and those that represent them. Leaders typically have a bigger picture of where the organization is headed, and they make their decisions according to that big picture. I’ve used this illustration for years about captains and their role. The goal of the captain is to steer the ship, but to keep his eye on the horizon. But you have to grasp what that truly means but understanding the value of the “horizon”. I humbly submit that the best definition of a “horizon” is my own… “A horizon is the place where the earth meets heaven.” So captains steer the ship from this point and this place in time. But the captain also knows that there is more to life than just this moment. Simply put, leaders know there is a greater cause, a bigger picture, and that some things are grander in the scheme of life than others. These are the things that shape what we value the most, and are willing to go to great lengths to defend and protect them.

Confront- At some point great leaders have to be brave enough to say “enough is enough”. They draw a line in the sand. They confront stupidity, selfishness, disregard for others or total narcissism head on, and when necessary, they do what Abercrombie & Fitch did. They part ways with the offensive freaks. They separate themselves from association with those who place their own whims and selfish choices above the company, the cause or the greater good. Abercrombie & Fitch is a perfect example of a company that is willing separate themselves from a negative influencer, and to pay a price to maintain something of greater value- their reputation. This is pretty significant, considering Abercrombie & Fitch has been under fire for several racy marketing campaigns featuring nearly naked models.

Fill the Void– Leaders must step up to protect the integrity of their organizations, even if it is from its own employees or those associated with the organization. But simply removing negative influences is not enough. The old saying goes, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” still holds true today. Leaders must be out in front, helping the organization to plow new fields of influence for the advancement of the group, and positively affecting the world they affect. The universe hates a vacuum, and unless leaders take charge and chart an intentional course for their organization to be character driven, something or someone else will be glad to step in and chart a conflicting or damaging course for them.

There’s no doubt that Reality TV shows like “Jersey Shore” are here to stay, along with their flaky characters and outlandish affect on our culture. The challenges you and I face as leaders in this generation is whether or not we will face the “reality” of clarifying what our values need to be, confronting those that challenge or undermine them, and then filling the void as we remove those negative influences with things that enhance and build up our organizations and those people who are a part of them. If we do, we win. If we don’t we could find ourselves in our own “Fitchuation” where negative influencers take the lead. So get busy, and lead out loud!

Lust… it’s not just what you think it is…

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Lust… it’s not just what you think it is…

Henry Kissinger once said, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”  Before I go any farther, let me be the first to admit that it’s SO TOTALLY WRONG to put the words “Henry Kissinger” and “aphrodisiac” in the same sentence… not the best way visually to make a point… or is it?  Before you get a vision of famous diplomat in a nighty surrounded by candlelight, let’s step back into a not-so-revolting world of reality…  We’re talking teamwork… synergy…

I’ve been talking about the  “7 Deadly Sins That Kill Synergy”… They are:

  1. Wrath(Anger)- I’ve tried to work with others before, and they just end up hacking me off!
  2. Greed(Selfishness)- I don’t want anyone else affecting my project, my job, my stuff… it’s mine….
  3. Sloth(Laziness)- I’d rather just do it myself, rather than hassle with input from other people.
  4. Pride(Arrogance)- I don’t want anyone’s help, or need it. I’m good enough without them!
  5. Lust(Unhealthy Craving)- Leave me alone! It’s my way! It’s my idea! It’s my project!
  6. Envy(Jealousy)- What if I look stupid asking for help, or someone else shows me up?
  7. Gluttony(Selfishness)- If I’m going to work this hard, I don’t want anyone to get credit but ME.  

Any organization that wants it’s teams to grow, thrive & produce at the highest possible level has to actively and consistently engage with the team members. of those teams knocking it out of the park.  When individual members of the team become “lustful”… wanting all the spotlight, all of the resources and all of the power and control of the project or event, then the group is in for some hard times!  This deadly sin of “lust” regarding synergy happens when individuals look at what roles or resources others have, and have an overwhelming desire to take those away from others and use them for their own gain or success.

SPOTLIGHTER…

It happens to some team members when they see someone else getting more ‘face time’ in front of the boss or client.  The individual begins searching for ways to put themselves into the spotlight when it’s not where they belong.  They interrupt conversations, schedule meetings that they shouldn’t, offer unsolicited input and even make decisions outside of their area of influence.  Left unchecked this person can damage not only their own reputation, but jeopardize the task at hand and the success of the venture.

STUFFGRUBBER

From time to time a team member also loses their true focus, and starts lusting after someone else’s resources.  Instead of following the old adage, “Do the best where you are with what you have”, they look for ways to use, misuse or abuse the resources of other team members.  It may be personnel, finances, equipment a variety of other resources that are usurped, but one thing is sure… this individual cares less about the success of the event, and more about their own personal gain.  The defense used by these stuff grubbers when challenged on this behavior is typically, “But we’re all on the same team/project, right?  I thought it would be OK since it was all for the same cause?”.   Stuff grubbers rarely are bold enough to admit that they wanted it, so they took it.

POWERHUNGRY

Finally, there are some people who don’t really care about the spotlight or the resources… their addiction of choice is power.  They cast a longing eye towards the bosses chair or the managers desk name plate, and they want it BAD.  They are convinced that it’s power that is rightfully theirs, and truthfully all would be better, more efficient and more successful if people would just give away their power to this power hungry  individual.  They don’t want the influence and authority that they believe is beyond their ability to handle.  They are just convinced that those commodities truthfully should be theirs already, giving them perfect comfort to use any means necessary to get that power.  Jacques Maritain, in “The Democratic Charter,” Man and the State says, “Authority and power are two different things: power is the force by means of which you can oblige others to obey you. Authority is the right to direct and command, to be listened to or obeyed by others. Authority requests power. Power without authority is tyranny.”  What this power grubber doesn’t understand is that they lack power because they lack authority.

SO WHAT?

IT’S YOU… So what if you find out that YOU are the one dealing with a Lust problem that’s damaging the group?  It could be through your own observation that you spot this flaw.  It may be graphically brought to your attention by a boss or coworker.  But whatever the mode of communication, you know and you see that it’s YOU.  What do you do then?

  • Evaluate- If you become painfully aware that YOU are this person, it’s time for some reflection, both by yourself and by others who know you well.  These others need to be people who know you well, aren’t afraid to speak the truth to you, and are somewhat familiar with the people and situational dynamics of your situation.  Only then can you move through and move past this damaging character trait.
  • Reflect- Take some time to digest what you’ve just been exposed to.  Sometimes the truth hurts, and we want to justify or deny what others see so clearly.  Ask yourself, “So what if ________________ is really true?  What am I going to do about it to change?”  Another good activity is to brainstorm a list of the existing problems that may have been created as a result of your “lustful” actions, and follow it up with a list of options for correcting any problems and preventing this in the future…

IT’S SOMEONE ELSE

  • Make a Plan- Before you confront anyone about this issue, you need to spend some serious time in developing a plan for how/when/where you will communicate with them, what you’ll say, and how you will leave that meeting.  Honesty is crucial when dealing with this kind of a challenge.  However, when backed into a corner by accusation or the facts, many people may come out swinging.  Look for ways to communicate that are honest but give them a gracious but very definite way out of the mess they have created.
  • Work the Plan- Although it truly is an attitudinal issue they are struggling with, it’s best to focus on their actions, and help them to discover their own attitudes that are the root cause for the behaviors.  Help them develop their own list of challenges they see, and to write a plan for effectively dealing with each issue in a constructive and timely manner.  It’s crucial that there be some kind of ongoing evaluation and accountability for this tendency to overcome.

Lust for the spotlight, for resources or for power can undermine or totally overwhelm any organization where it is allowed to operate.  The great news is that as a part of the team, you don’t have to let this happen… so get out there and stoke up the synergy of your group by helping to knock out this “deadly sin” of lust!