If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything

As a leadership coach, I come in contact with managers and everyday leaders who have no idea what they want in life or who they are without their titles. They might be able to tell me their roles in life, like mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, but they don’t have the foggiest notion of why they “do what they do” and “act the way they act,” especially under pressure.

Many times they don’t know their values. They’ve never given thought to their personal “non-negotiable.”  Many don’t have a moral compass, a set of values that they will NOT go beyond.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” While that’s a little harsh, it does make the point that you must examine your life. For what?  To pinpoint your “moral compass” – your true values. Leaders know their values, why those values are important, how those values play out in life and most important what they will sacrifice for those values.

You can’t have one set of values in your work life and a different set in your personal life. Your values go with you everywhere.  A mess up in one area of life can easily affect another. For example, it was a seemingly personal value that distracted and somewhat derailed Bill Clinton’s career, not a business value, which shows that values are not compartmentalized. So if you don’t examine your life and know what you stand for, you can easily get sidetracked.

Getting to know yourself starts with honesty – with others and especially with yourself. While most people have “cash register” honesty, meaning they’d never steal money from their employer, they aren’t always honest in other ways.

Perhaps they tell the world they value one thing and display something else. Their insides don’t match their outsides. For example, some people will tout the value of hard work and claim they work harder than anyone else. Yet when you look at their work behaviors, you find that they’re spending much of the day on long conversations about how busy and overwhelmed they are. Some spend a lot of time on social media – things that don’t advance the company. That’s not personal honesty or personal awareness.

I’d invite you to take a half-day – go to a quite place and think about what values you will sacrifice for. If you’d like a template, below is a link to a list of values. Pick 10 and then pare it down to 5. You’ll be amazed.

I Googled “List of Values” and they can be found at listofvalues.com. You’ll see by the length of the list why I suggested a half-day of alone time for you to pare your values down to the top 5!

Are You Executive Level Material? Tip #2

The following is the second in a series of 10 tips to help you become more promotable in your job.

2. Build your confidence.

Contrary to popular belief, confidence is not about self-esteem or self-worth. In fact, someone can have a low level of self-esteem and still become a high-level executive, as the person’s low self-esteem could be driving them to succeed. True confidence is simply the belief that you can do things well. If you doubt your ability to do things well, simply look back at your record of accomplishment. Use those past successes as a way to build your confidence so it’s apparent to others as well.

I’m Shy at Social Gatherings

Dear Jean,

I have a real problem in social gatherings.  I’m really outgoing until I get to a big party.  I seem to do better at small gatherings.  I’m extremely comfortable in a one-on-one situation.  Is there anything I can do to relieve this nervousness in groups?


I feel the same way in groups of people I don’t know.  Once in awhile, I still end up in a corner talking to people I know rather than meeting new people.  A party at my own office is a breeze.  On my own territory, I know exactly what I want to gain from having the party.

The answer to your question lies in your reason for being at the party.  Be clear with yourself.  What is your goal? Are there people you want to meet?  Is this purely networking for business, or are you networking for social reasons as well?  Having a goal will help you walk into a room of mostly strangers.

My goal for a business party is usually quite simple – to make contact with two new people.  After I’ve reached my goal, it’s time to relax.  It’s important to me that the people I’ve met remember who I am and what I do, so when I return to my office, I send them a handwritten note with my business card.

Change My Personality?

Dear Jean,

My boss would like me to be more of a people person.  Because I supervise five people, this has come up on every review.  It’s not that I don’t like people, but I find many people extremely annoying.  How can I change my personality?


I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to change your personality.  It sounds like all you need to do is add some people skills.  And believe me, they can be acquired.  The best training for this in the nation is the Dale Carnegie course.  I have seen a 10-week course dramatically alter a person’s career opportunities.  These skills are crucial.  You will learn such things as how to be a good listener and how to get others to talk about themselves; how to show genuine interest in other people; how to supervise without criticizing, condemning, or complaining; and how just smiling can make people around you feel differently.  As a bonus, Dale Carnegie training (at www.dalecarnegie.com) will enhance your family relationships as well.

There are also life coaches and business coaches that can help. Be sure to get a referral if you go this route.  It can be a waste of time and money if you get a mediocre coach.

I too had to change the way I dealt with people.  To do this, I first made a solemn vow to myself to change, and then I listened to educational tapes night and day.  I listened to them when I got ready for work; I listened to them as I drove to and from work.  It’s amazing how much motivation and education you can get in your car.

This became a lifelong habit, and even though the subject matter of the tapes I listen to changes, I always take along 6 to 12 hours of listening on any road trip.  Head for the public library; see what it has to offer.  My largest source of business education tapes is Nightingale Conant.  You can find them on the web at www.nightingale.com.

Make it a goal to turn on a tape the minute you get in the car.  Before too long, you will have an education equivalent to a master’s degree just from your commute and your driving around town.

Qualities of a Good Boss

To be a good boss, you need certain qualities. There are many opinions of what makes a good leader. I believe that leaders are made, not born. Good leaders have these qualities:

• Heart and integrity

• The ability to follow as well as lead

• Vision

• Consistency

• The desire to teach, to coach, and to watch people grow

• A willingness to set boundaries

• A willingness to hire people who are not like themselves