Tag Archives: Leadership

Good Cop, Bad Cop, Which One are You?

There were three of us on the conference call line; my direct report, another female colleague, for whom we are developing an e-learning program, and I.  We were discussing the framework, the content and the training audience.  My direct had already put together an outline and asked for feedback to ensure she was heading in the right direction.  Our colleague, new to the organization, wasn’t able to answer our questions.  Rather than be honest and tell us she wasn’t sure, she tried to answer vaguely to provide some kind of a response.  It was clear to us she lacked clarity about the project.  Then to cover this up, she praised the work we had already completed.

My direct, who worked on the project, appreciated this praise.  I understand we all need to feel valued at work, but this was not a good use of my time.  She listened raptly as our new colleague praised her for the “clean look” of the PowerPoint slides.  I muted my phone and tried to listen to the friendly banter, hoping it would lead to some useful information, but it didn’t.  After several minutes, I stepped in.  I suggested she find the answers to our questions and get back to us.  We would wait to hear from her before we continued to work on the project.  I ended the call and moved on to my next meeting.

Later that night, as I reflected on my day, I wondered if I handled the situation properly.  Was I too hard on the new hire?  Did I offend her in any way?  Should I have taken a more understanding approach?  I wasn’t abusive, that I know, but I may have been unnecessarily abrupt.

The next day, I checked with my direct and asked for feedback – “Was I too hard on her?”  She replied, well there’s always a good cop and a bad cop in situations like these.  She was telling me, I was the bad cop!  My goal as a leader is to be a servant leader, a term coined by Robert K. Greenleaf, in “The Servant as Leader.”  The concept is simple, a servant leader is one who shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people perform and develop as highly as possible.  That last part is most important to me.  As a coach, I help others be successful their business careers.

If I were to do it over, I would ask her a couple of questions, rather than end the call.  The first question would be:  What is preventing you from getting clarity on this project?  The second question is:  How can we assist you in getting this clarity?  We may not have been able to solve anything on the phone, but it certainly would have given us some insights and potentially helped us move the project forward.  Instead, I shut the door on helping her, and that is not the kind of leader I am or want to be.

Two days later, I met her.  She was apologetic for not knowing the answers and then reminded me she is only with the organization for three weeks.  I could tell from her comments and demeanor that she isn’t getting the support she needs to be successful in her new role.  We have plans to go to lunch next week.  The servant leader in me wants to help her be successful.  What type of leader are you?

If you liked today’s article, you’re welcome to use it in your own ezine or blog as long as you include the following blurb:

Doris Braun, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, helps women business leaders promote themselves, transition to new leadership positions and take on new career challenges.  Follow her on www.LeadershipSolutionsforWomen.com and Twitter @dorisbraun.

Courtesy says you matter to me, a lesson in service and leadership


This morning, my contractor and his wrecking crew are coming to demolish the hall bathroom in my home.  It’s the start of a bathroom makeover.  Of course, there has been a lot of planning leading up to today.  I worked with different people in order to pull this together.  Two women were instrumental to me.  Gina, a tile expert, helped me select the right tiles and designed the look of the bathroom.  Janet, a fixtures specialist, helped me select the tub, sink, faucets, etc.  Here is a short story on how I dropped the ball, twice, and how my advisors handled each situation.

Gina called me a week ago and said that delivery was arranged for Monday, would I please call back with my credit card.  She followed up with an email, to which I replied, “please call me again and when you do, I will pick up.”  Gina didn’t call, and I went on a week-long business trip.  This past Friday, I received an email from her asking to please call by 4pm with the credit card number.  I saw the email at 4:30!  I was really concerned I was going to delay the start of my own home project!  I emailed Gina and even though she had already started her weekend, she replied, “Don’t worry, we will still deliver.  Please call the warehouse over the weekend.”  I was really impressed and grateful for this excellent customer service.  Yes, I was a repeat client, but the last time I used them was about 8 years ago!

The same week, I called Janet and left a voicemail asking her to deliver on Monday.  I found out on Saturday, when visiting Janet in the showroom, that delivery was not arranged.  She started to hurl excuses at me, ‘You never called me,’ and ‘I told you I need at least two days notice.’  I was clearly disappointed, but said “I don’t want to argue with you,” to which she replied – “I am not arguing, I just want to be sure you understand this is not my fault.”  I chuckled when I heard that.  In the end, delivery is Tuesday, a one day delay, which is no big deal.

In each case, a ball was dropped, and yes, I do take responsibility.  I realize this is a simple story with a happy ending, but ‘dropped balls’ happen all the time in business.  How we react to them impacts our business success and client relationships.  Do we react like Gina and find solutions for our clients or like Janet and point blame at them?  Gina was courteous and will receive many referrals from me.  Janet wasn’t, and it hurt our business relationship (yes, I was a repeat client there too).  Courtesy and a willingness to work with others will leave a positive impression.  Whether you are a small business owner, a leader in Corporate America, or an entrepreneur, courtesy says you matter to me.  Be courteous, and the people you work with will know that they matter to you.

We are Paid for our Judgment, Not for our Stamina

Arianna Huffington June 18, 2014Resumes list our accomplishments and highlight our skills.  Where do we state that we are willing to work 12 hour days?  What part of the resume lists that we are willing to log back in and work more as soon as we get home from the office?  Did you mention “willing to work weekends and ignore your family” under Hobbies?  Of course not!  Then why do so many of this fall into this trap?  Somewhere, someone led us to believe that we are paid for our stamina – working long hours means future success.  Well, it doesn’t.  As a matter of fact studies show that the less sleep we have, the less productive, creative and effective we are, at work and at home.

So for all of you women out there, who are trying to burn the candle at both ends, here are my recommendations to help you achieve more, while getting more sleep:

Start Delegating!
The number one reason I hear women AND men say that they don’t delegate is because they can do it better themselves.  In all of the leadership programs I have led, this comes up time and time again, without fail.  I will tell you what I tell them:  Stop thinking you can do it better than anyone else.  If you keep doing the jobs yourself, you will remain in this position for the rest of your career.  And if for some reason, it is actually true that you can do it better than anyone else, you are in the worst shape of all, because you have surrounded yourself with a team that is not going to lift you up – they are only going to bring you down.

What will you be able to achieve for yourself and your organization if you start to delegate?

Hire People Smarter than you!
Surround yourself with smart and talented people, who will help you executive and deliver your initiatives.  You will learn more, achieve more, and get ahead faster by building a team that helps everyone succeed.

Why are you hiring people who know as much as or less than you?

Network and Build Relationships
Do this with people inside of your organization.  You will be more successful when you are able to work with others and through others.  You cannot influence people you don’t know.  And if you can’t influence people, then you will never make it into a senior leadership position.  Influence is the key skill leaders at the top have mastered.

What would you be able to achieve if you strengthened relationships with your colleagues?

Schedule Family and/or Me time
What doesn’t get prioritized doesn’t get done.  We need to recharge to be effective in the office and at home.  Don’t think you can go 24/7 and still be happy, enthusiastic, joyful and helpful to others.  Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep or else you will create negative effects on your body and health.

What do you have to do differently to get to bed earlier?

I heard Arianna Huffington speak this morning in NYC.  She had me laughing out loud when she said “No one is going to read your Linkedin Profile as your eulogy.”  Mary was able to increase sales by 58%….  Not going to happen!  So let’s be GREAT at what we do, without killing ourselves.  Create the life you want today.  If not now, when?