Cecil the Lion

First off, “experts” in Social Media have told me not to write about stuff like this, it’s too off topic and will diminish my subscribers. Second off…. I don’t care. 

A dentist from Bloomington, Minnesota killed a lion in Zimbabwe and the world has taken notice. Apparently most of what the dentist did was completely legal. Some of what he did was not, he broke some laws. He should be punished commensurate with the laws that he broke. 

This is not the first time the dentist has allegedly crossed the line into illegal hunting. I don’t know the guy but the guy sounds like a very unethical hunter. If I didn’t care about being called judgmental I might even describe the guy as a jerk. 

Also apparently, the lion he killed was “beloved.” He roamed “free” for years at a national park. He was described as a gentle giant. He never bothered anybody, he just did what lions do.

PETA has now called for the immediate execution of the dentist. No trial, no evidence, no lawyers, just kill the damn dentist. Other people who are “horrified” at the murder of this innocent lion have threatened to kill the dentist’s wife and kids. 

Not far from my office in the same Bloomington, Minnesota a demonstration was held outside the dentist’s office. Hundreds of people gathered to protest this man they called an “abomination.” There was media coverage from around the world. 

The death of Cecil the Lion was indeed a big deal.

Mere miles from the dentist’s office is the Hennepin County Morgue. As the protest for Cecil was taking place the body of a little boy was at the morgue. This child was also innocent, he didn’t bother anyone, he was beloved and he was also murdered while doing what children do.

But there was no outrage, there was no protest. The story of Cecil the lion was world-wide news, it was the lead story in Minnesota which is the other side of the world from where Cecil was killed. Cecil was discussed on talk radio for days, he still is as a matter of fact. The story of the murdered little boy was briefly mentioned on the radio, he was one of 30+ murders in the area in 2015…. so far.

Did I mention the fact that the child was a human being and the lion was an animal? 

Has the whole world gone crazy?

The protestors in Bloomington and animal rights activists around the world say we must work to ensure no more innocent lions are killed…. ever! I’m fine with that but where are the human rights activists protesting to ensure no more little boys are killed…ever?

Perhaps if people had the same sense of outrage when a little boy is killed as they do when a lion is killed, perhaps then, just perhaps, fewer little kids would be gunned down while playing in the street. 

Maybe the whole world isn’t crazy, most people questioned in Zimbabwe hadn’t actually heard about the lion and said they were too busy trying to make a living to care about it. But maybe some people truly do place more value on the life of a lion than they do on the life of a little boy. Judging from the events of the last week that would appear to be the case. 

That would also be very, very sad.

 

The Approachable Leader

If you’re a very high level leader in a mid to large size organization you live a good part of your life in a bubble. The higher in your organization you are the bigger, and stronger, the bubble.

You may disagree with that but that’s because you live in a bubble, apparently the bubble can’t be seen from the inside but it is pretty obvious to anyone looking at it from the outside.

The bubble causes lots of issues for leaders. Generally speaking the bubble makes it more challenging to be an effective leader. That’s because not only can you not see the bubble, you can’t see the haze the bubble puts around everything you do see. The bubble also muffles the voices of a good many people you talk with.

Now, it’s not anything that a leader does that causes the bubble. A bit of the bubble is caused by people’s almost natural fear of being themselves around what I’ll call an “authority figure.” When you’re the boss you have a measure of control over a big part of your people’s lives and that tends to make a lot of them a bit skittish.

The biggest cause of the bubble however is what leaders don’t do. They don’t take concrete steps to escape the bubble or better yet, simply destroy the bubble entirely. They do not make themselves an approachable leader.

So, how does a leader get outside the bubble or eliminate it completely?

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Transparent, consistent, honest, open, frequent, wide-ranging, real, two-way communication. Communication is a great way to bring downs walls and burst bubbles. There are many ways to effectively communicate these days, even if your team is very large.

Nothing will ever replace face-to face conversations. No matter what anybody says, nothing will replace the personal touch. So as I suggest a couple of alternatives to live, personal interactions please understand that I’m not suggesting you use these instead of personal communication, I’m suggesting to use these along with your frequent human interactions.

Write a company or organization blog. Don’t have it written, write it yourself. Seriously, a blog post saying hey, here’s what happening lately should take less than 30 minutes to write. Once or twice a month is enough and a reply or two can be done on the fly.

Obviously you can’t share proprietary information or make anyone an inside trader but you can stay more visible. The reality today is that people read blogs, your people will most certainly read yours. You can share your weekend plans, tell a story about your family, discuss a topic in the news. You may wonder why your people would care but know this: they do. You had better hope they do because if they don’t care about you as a person they can’t care about you as a leader. Let them know you’re human, just like them.

Do a weekly Podcast. A two or three minute podcast with current information and a shot of motivation delivered straight to your team’s email each Monday morning. Again, it’s purely conversational, personal and connecting. A two or three minute podcast shouldn’t take much longer to record than, well than, two or three minutes.

Both of these ideas require time. The question is does interacting with your people seem like an expense of your time or an investment of your time? As a leader, remaining close to the people who make-up your organization is priceless. It costs so little yet means so much.

This is an investment that will pay returns almost immediately, and unlike most investments this one is almost a sure thing. Why wouldn’t a leader make this investment today?

How Much a Woman Should Earn

We can thank Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for this post. In the blunder of blunders he inadvertently shined a light on gender inequality during an event focused on women in tech. He suggested women shouldn’t ask for raises but rather trust that the system will take care of them.

“It’s not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along,” Nadella said in the interview, which was at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix. “And that, I think, might be one of the additional superpowers that quite frankly women who don’t ask for raises have.”

“Because that’s good karma,” Nadella continued. “It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust. That’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to.”

Now isn’t that special. Women may not have money to pay their bills but they have that karma thing working for them …. which is good.

To be fair, Nadella almost immediately took to social media to declare that he had misspoken, that he was wrong, that he was completely wrong, that he wasn’t clear, and he was just about anything he needed to be to make the whole thing just go away.

That he was wrong is obvious; why he was wrong isn’t so clear. Did he just misspeak or did he forget he was talking out loud and let his true thoughts go public. Oh how I wish somebody would have followed up with a question about how men should ask for a raise. I just can’t escape the feeling that his answer would have been very different.

But is he actually right?

I have compiled a list of all the reasons, yes, ALL the reasons why women should NOT be paid equally to their male counterparts. Here it is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what do you think. I’m absolutely certain that’s all of them. Every one that makes sense anyway. So, it’s plain to see why women should just sit there quietly and trust the “system” that has been undervaluing them since, well, since forever.

Here’s the deal; everybody, everybody, who does the same job with the same results and with similar experience should be payed the same. The exact same! The job and how well it’s done is all that should matter. It’s time to fix this once and forever.

It can’t be that hard. If companies can’t afford to pay more than maybe men don’t get a raise until women catch up. Maybe the stockholders or owners take a hit until women are paid equally. Maybe it’s something else, but SOMETHING must change.

Here’s one thing that must change: I was talking with a friend of mine, a former CEO and CFO of a couple of fairly large companies. I asked about this topic and he said women are paid less “because their income is incremental” to the “main bread winner.” Any guesses as to the gender of the “main” bread winner?

Now my friend is a great guy and at 80 years old it’s been a while since he has influenced a business but while he’s retired his thinking in too many businesses persists. THAT MUST CHANGE!

Here’s another thing that must change: get rid of job descriptions. Replace them with Position Results Descriptions. Job descriptions are task oriented and allow a myriad of biases to enter a performance review. Position Results Descriptions are a truly performance based evaluation tool that considers only the key results areas required for the job and objectively measures, with predetermined measurements, whether or not the “result” was achieved successfully. It doesn’t allow race, age, or gender to enter into the picture. Not even subconsciously.

Fair is fair. I don’t know if there was ever a legitimate reason for women to be paid less then men but I can guarantee you there is no legitimate reason today. Karma doesn’t pay bills, equal pay for equal work does!

Massacre by Micromanaging

“The more you use your reins, the less they’ll use their brains” – The Horse Whisperer

This is going to be a post about a killer of professional development, micromanagement. But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s begin with a basic definition of the topic.

“Micromanagement is a style of management that is characterized by an excessive need for
control and extreme attention to even apparently trivial details.”

Most leaders would accept the above definition as reasonable. Most micromanages would take issue with the term “excessive.” Therein lies the problem.

No one really thinks of the words “excessive” and “extreme” as positive. They bring to mind things like police brutality, abuse or worse. When used to describe a management style, many people envision a boss who has made it a goal to make the lives their direct reports miserable. That’s why so many people have a terrible reaction to being micromanaged and usually cite it as one of the worst management dysfunctions.

Here’s what real micromanagement looks like:

The manager tells direct reports what to do, how to do it and when to do it, giving no latitude to the employee. All decisions, no matter how small, must go through the manager. Delegation of authority is restricted or totally absent, this results in direct reports spending more time reporting on progress than making progress. The “guidance” provided by the manager generally offers minimal incremental value, for instance, nitpicking comments regarding grammatical or typographical errors on documents.

While micromanagement can be caused by a variety of issues it is most commonly just a learned set of negative behaviors that must be unlearned. It is not an easy change to make but it can be accomplished over time with some professional coaching and a serious commitment to make the necessary changes.

Whether you believe the definition I’ve provided you should make no mistake about this: micromanagers literally massacre the morale, motivation and growth of their people. I don’t think there is a worse problem in business today. Leaders who insist on micromanaging are very limited leaders. They have put good people in place but they refuse to turn them lose to excel.

When managers attempt to control every situation, employees become de-motivated (after all, they know their work is going to be scrutinized and reworked by the manager anyway, so why bother trying?) and more importantly, they fail to learn and adapt to new situations, since it is never truly up to them to succeed or fail. This will negatively affect their long-term ability to contribute to the team and ultimately the success of the organization.

Here’s the biggest problem of all with micromanaging; it cripples the development of future leaders. When you as a leader feel that you must control every decision and process you are not developing future leaders. When you fail to develop future leaders you miss the opportunity to experience explosive growth within your organization.

You cannot experience explosive growth in your organization by developing more obedient followers, you must grow more leaders. Leaders DO NOT grow in micromanaged environments.
If you’re not growing leaders then you’re not growing your organization, as least not as fast as you could. You simply must learn to let go. Risk letting your people make some mistakes, they may even learn from them. Maybe they will find a better way than your way (yes, it is possible) of doing something and you can learn too.

If you’re any type of authentic leader then you need to trust that you’ve put the right people in the right spots. If you believe in yourself then you’ll believe in your people. If you can’t do that then you might be able to manage your people but you cannot truly lead them.

Let go to lead!

How Hate Takes Over

“No one has ever gained a thing by hating.” 

That was a tweet I sent out last week. It was the truth as I saw it and I didn’t think that there could possibly be any controversy over it at all. It was “harmless” and a simple fact.

Boy, oh boy, oh boy was I wrong! 

To be sure, the majority of people who RT’d or commented on the tweet agreed with it but it was not a very big majority. I was shocked by the number of people who disagreed with it, some vehemently.

Some said I was just naive, they said that some of the most successful people in the world got that way by hating. They said their hatred “allowed” them to basically violate any law or any societal norm for their own purposes. Hatred was how they “gained” an advantage over people who didn’t hate.

As surprised as I was at the responses I was most surprised by the person several people held up as an example of “successful” hating. 

Adolph Hitler. 

They listed his “accomplishments” and said they could only have been “achieved” by hating. When I pointed out that he killed millions and then eventually killed himself two people said his suicide was his greatest accomplishment. They said he “got to” choose when and how he died and took that choice away from the allies. One person said only people who truly love themselves could kill themselves.

The responses came from all around the world but I was surprised by how many of these “Hitler” responses came from Europe. How soon people forget? 

One woman from the UK said that “Hitler had made Germany the greatest world power ever” and the Americans “ruined” it by destroying Europe. Another person from France said that Hitler didn’t die at all, his “death” was just American propaganda and that Hitler is STILL alive today. (I assume he’s working as a mechanic in Detroit with his friend Elvis Presley.)

I just started blocking some of these people and eventually gave up and turned Twitter off. I didn’t block them for disagreeing with me, I blocked them because I refuse to let hate win. I refuse to let hate take over my timeline. I refuse to let hate take over anything.

(I am going to violate a basic Human Relations Principle here but this must be said) To the people who think they have something to gain by hating, let me say this: YOU ARE WRONG! Believing that there is ANYTHING to be gained by hating allows hate a place in your life. That is how hate takes over!

Hate destroys. Hate destroys and that is all it does. It destroys families. It destroys friendships. It destroys countries. It destroys companies and teams. 

Most of all, hate destroys people. 

If you have bought into the idea that something good comes from hate then get rid of that idea now. Get rid of it before it gets rid of you. Get rid of it before it costs you valuable relationships and maybe even family members. Get rid of it before it costs you your self-respect. 

Haters ALWAYS lose more than the hated. It may not appear that way at first, it may take some time for hate to destroy but destroy it will.

Only you can keep yourself from becoming hate’s victim. It’s a decision you must make. Make it today, make it tomorrow and make it everyday.

Mountains to Climb

great-smoky-mountainsMountains are beautiful from a distance, especially when we don’t need to hike over them to get somewhere else.

Imagine what the mountains meant to the early pioneers traveling across the vast prairie in search of the Great Northwest. They were not a welcomed sight, but rather, the very definition of hardship. It took days to travel even a few miles. The journey was rugged, the work exhausting, the progress minimal. Joy in passing through the rugged range rested completely upon the attitude of the pioneer.

Trials and hardships in life are like mountains. They are inevitable, challenging, unwanted obstacles, and much more beautiful when looking back on those recently conquered.

Today, many of us live in the midst of mountains. And so the question must be asked – how is your attitude?

I speak often on the importance of maintaining control of our attitudes. The ability to “set the tone” for your day, everyday, is critical for success in the face of the mountains that challenge us each day. It is difficult; to say the least, to remain positive when it seems as if every light at the end of the tunnel is just another train on it’s way to running you over. It might even be impossible to do it alone.

So….I’d like to offer a small suggestion – don’t try to do it alone. Simul-climb! Simul-climbing is a technique used by experienced rock climbers to move up a rock wall with a steady pace, it also allows the peak to be reached much faster.

Simul-climbing is basically two climbers roped together climbing at the same time. While it offers many advantages there seems to be one big shortcoming, if one falls, they both fall. This causes simul-climbers to be very selective when choosing a partner.

Pick a partner, or mentor, that will help you maintain control over your attitude and someone that you can help as well. This is a person who you can share your challenges with, one that offers advice and encouragement and accepts the same from you. Tie yourself to this person and attack the mountains that stand in the way of your eventual success. Remember, if you fall and your attitude goes south on you, you will be taking someone else with you.

So don’t fall!

Gun Control – Yes or No?

GunsI’ve been thinking about writing on the subject of gun control for a while now. It is certainly top of mind for many people in the United States these days and rightly so. For some people in the United States, on both sides of the gun debate, it is their number one “issue” every day of the year.

It was a couple of articles in today’s edition of the Minneapolis Star & Tribune that finally prompted me to add my two cents on the topic.

Before we begin let me set the record straight. I am a gun owner. The most liberal among us would call me a gun nut, the people I might be tempted to call a gun nut would say what I own are nothing more than toys. Some people hate all things gun related and some people love all things gun related.

Such is the emotion that surrounds this important debate. As with most topics that are worth debating it is that emotion that makes the debate so unfruitful.

The first story I noticed in the paper was the story of a man who murdered his mother in 1995 with a shotgun when he was just 14 years old. He was found to be insane and was committed to an institution for the criminally insane. Under both state and federal law if he was ever released he would be forbidden from ever buying or owning a gun again.

Well, he was released, and there are NO RECORDS to indicate exactly when. Nice isn’t it, they really aren’t sure just when he got out, that would indicate to me that they also can’t say it was okay to let him out. Was he cured or not?

Well, apparently not.

In the time since his release he has been acquiring guns, “legally” purchased at local gun shops. A LOT of guns, the paper rightly described it as an arsenal. He just lied on his permit application, switched his first and middle names and presto – he’s good to go.  He managed to acquire 13 guns, including semi-automatic rifles, an AK-47, a Tommy gun, assorted shotguns and handguns, including a .50-caliber Desert Eagle.

Then he posted a photo on his Facebook page of all his guns laid out on a table. A local sheriff’s office saw the photo and recognized the name of the person as someone who was forbidden to own any weapon, much less this stockpile.

When the deputies arrived at his home, the same home where 18 years earlier he had murdered his mother, they discovered letters he had written (apparently to no one) that talked about the “monster” within him that wanted to kill, and kill and kill.

I wish I could say that the paper reported this was an isolated incident but apparently not being able to legally purchase guns in Minnesota is no hindrance to “legally” purchasing guns in Minnesota. The loopholes are so big you could drive a tank through them.

Why would we even need “debate” about closing those loopholes? Sorry folks, but I don’t want convicted murderers, crazy ones at that, standing next to me at the gun range blasting away.

The next story would almost be funny if it wasn’t so ridiculous. On Saturday, January 23,  2013, five people were shot at various gun shows around the U.S. All accidentally, and all will fully recover. But five people, in a day?

I probably wouldn’t have paid that much attention to this story except for the part about the guy who had just purchased himself a used 45 caliber handgun. Apparently one of the first things he did was point it at his business partner and pull the trigger. Well, guess what – unknown to the guy who purchased the gun it came with bullets and the bullets were in the gun. His business partner is hospitalized but recovering.

Now here’s the part that really caught my eye. It’s illegal to bring a loaded gun to that gun show but the person who did will likely never be prosecuted because no one knows his name. It was a simple cash transaction. No records and no ID required! We would probably never know who bought it either if the knucklehead knew anything about handling a gun.

Could we at least get a name of the seller? Just a name? Why would we even need to debate about that?

I went up to my neighborhood store for my morning diet coke this morning and there was a guy in front of me who looked to be about 40 years old. He was buying cigarettes, they asked for his ID and he showed it to them.

So remember, when buying cigarettes be sure to bring your ID, when buying a gun, be sure to leave it at home.

I do not want more gun control laws passed in the United States. I will not surrender my guns, I will not stop supporting those who choose to owns guns, lots of guns. It is a basic right of every law abiding citizen of the United States. It’s fun to target shoot, hunting is a great sport and having a gun for self-defense is a very reasonable thing to do.

BUT….

Can we be reasonable people? Can we FULLY enforce the laws currently on the books? Can we track the buyers and sellers of guns in the manner that we track the buyers and sellers of certain cough syrups and cold medicines in the United States?

Can we ask people for a legal ID before we let them set up their table and start selling guns at the local gun show?

Worried about the “government” collecting all the guns? Stop deluding yourself; you and I know that is NEVER going to happen – 300 million guns are not going to go quietly into the night.

This really shouldn’t be so hard.

One last question to my fellow Conservative Republicans before you start ripping on me for this post ….  We want to pass “Voter Rights” laws that require people to show an ID before they vote (which I support) but showing an ID before buying a gun at a gun show is unconstitutional?

Help me out with that one.