Part I: Message for Leaders– Don’t Micro-manage employees

My view based on consulting with organizations for forty plus years—Problem of Micromanagement. Trying to get people to do an assignment or task your way is exhausting. Focusing on a sense sense of urgency takes effort and jeopardizes self-initiative, morale of workers, and quality service. Are people doing an assignment fast enough?  Are they doing it the way I want it done? Are they staying late to complete their task or just punching the clock? Is enough being done to create a more responsive and productive work place environment?

Micromanagement takes a lot of work and energy in the wrong direction. How about being a constructive boss who respects others opinions and ideas.  If you want things done right and goals reached involve others in the decision-making and make them feel important by sharing in the rewards of success–living wage, bonuses and profit sharing. By building an open and trusting relationship the owner and boss will empower employees. This people first approach will pay dividends in many subtle but powerful ways. This type of respectful approach will build loyalty and help create a team of employees that will in turn show respect to customers and support the organization imperatives of productivity and profitability.  Be careful dismissing this point too quickly — even if you would never micromanage, you could be creating the wrong incentives for people in your organization.

Part II: Building a High Performance Team.

Daily Quote: ” Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together for a common goal is success”.  Henry Ford 


What are the four most important factors for building a strong team? If you read Part I where I covered more structural features of building effective teams.

1. Personal Safety. This is genuine belief that we won’t get hurt in participating in this team. The experience will be worth your time and effort.

2. Trust  built on keeping your word and following through on commitments  “We mean what we say and we say what we mean,” you and other members commit to rise and fall together to achieve your collective and shared goals.

3. Self-disclosure as “A willingness to connect both professionally and personally with other members. Team members are supportive of each other and are will to share experiences and stories that make the private public, thus increasing loyalty and bonding.

4. Sense of belonging and acceptance of diversity and differences.

The presence of these characteristics in a team supports the experimentation, risk-taking, shared responsibility and vulnerability that are essential steps toward meaningful learning and growth of team members. When a team develops this type of sharing and supportive culture the team is perceived as a  safer, more trusting and more compatible environment. The value of the team is rated higher than individual accomplishments.  But a challenge is that the steps  required to establish this foundation can appear to take time away from more pressing tasks–and as leaders we can easily get distracted by short-term tasks such as, quarter budget and revenue goals or expenses, project deadlines and request and obligations to bosses or client and other outside distractions. These “do it now” pressures neglect the group’s longer-term emotional and professional development.

In my experience group members themselves sense the need for these factors to be established in the group, and they express that need quite clearly, although often indirectly.  The key for a leader is to listen for and respond to any signals related to members’ needs in these areas, while noting that it may be particularly difficult for members to articulate them in the face of our (perceived) indifference if we seem too focused on just  results.  This aspect of group development is a true test of a leader’s ability to focus on what we know to be important soft skills rather than what appears to be urgent.

Are Leaders Born or Made? Focus on Emotional Intelligence

Are Leaders Born or Made?

Some evidence to help shape and challenge your thinking

In a award winning 1998 HBR article by Goleman, the Father of Emotional Intelligence, laid out many of the answers for the often asked question –Are Leader’s born or made?  

In his research and study of many large, complex and global companies, he found that while the qualities traditionally associated with leadership—such as intelligence, inspiration, toughness, determination, and vision—are required for success, they are insufficient to describe the total picture of what makes a great leader. Truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

These qualities may sound “soft” and not “hard” business analytics”, but Goleman found direct ties between emotional intelligence and measurable business results. While emotional intelligence’s relevance to business has continued to spark debate over the past 15 years, Goleman’s article remains the definitive reference on the subject, with a description of each component of emotional intelligence and a detailed discussion of how to recognize it in potential leaders, how and why it connects to performance, and how it can be learned. It also remains top of my mind because when I understand that emotions and feelings enrich our lives it motivates me to learn as much as I can about myself and interactions with others. EI provides me with the opportunity to see life as an opportunity to grow and develop. I am motivated to risk and be curious about what I don’t know about the human condition.  As a result I become stronger in the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical spheres of my life because I am inspired to put “continuous” learning at the center of my life rather than living in the past or fearful of the future.

I truly believe what Bertrand Russel, a great American philosopher said. To paraphrase his thoughts and idea: Most people would rather go through life “sleep walking” and not thinking about the important work of thinking deeply, problem solving and taking constructive action about the things they value most in life. Remember there are many things we can influence and control in life and there are also things we can’t; knowing the difference and choosing to do something about creating a life on purpose and with meaning is in our hands.

Want to be Perceived as an Effective Leader? STOP being an Asshole or Jerk

Why do most workers assume that leaders are ‘Assholes”. Mainly,because some promenade leaders are seen as arrogant, abusive, make too much money and lack effective interpersonal communication skills such as, empathy, listening and understanding. Most ineffective or bad leaders seem to lack patience and are experienced as selfish. An article in the Washington Post summarizes this issue in very dramatic ways by listing many of these asshole leaders from General Patton to Steve Jobs and the infamous Donald Trump. After reading this insightful article you will understand why many people make the connection between poor leadership and being an asshole.

Dr.Robert Sutton, author of the business bestseller The No Asshole Rule , has recently said, “Everyone has their own private Steve Jobs. It usually tells you a lot about them—and little about Jobs.” Most potential leaders who thing Jobs, Trump or Patton are good role models for leadership seem to be taking a narrow and dying view of an old leadership style called the Command and Control model. Most people would agree that the CC style is a sure way now of days to doomed or de-railment their career because the 21 Century leader knows that communication and excellent “people skills” and emotional intelligence are a more fruitful path for career advancement.

So what is the answer for avoiding the Asshole syndrome as you move forward in your career ?

 People who want to stop being an asshole must re-learn or learn how to improve their communication effectiveness and empathy. Recent research by Zinger and Folkman indicate that this was the most common skill that that bad leaders (assholes) needed to improve. Communication skills can be fine tuned and learned once the individual knows their current level of communicating and is committed to learn new skills. These skills are very changeable with deliberative and focused practice. For many leaders, improvement in communication skills is less about learning new skills than about using the skills they already possess, but are under utilized. If you choose to improve and be perceived as an effective leader recent research shows that when struggling leaders spend time improving presentation skills, the effort can produce an immediately payoff.

After a leader acknowledges a need to improve communication skills and a focus plan for change is created, and before action is taken, you need to get into the right mindset. The power of your thoughts, your positive mindset, your committed focus on your goals and your plan will improve your chances of success in each area you take action in. You must believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. You must become aware of your thoughts and maintain the ones that will support you’re getting what you want. You must eliminate distractions and focus on your strengths and  the end result.

Create a more inspirational, open and supportive workplace environment. Don’t miss this article on what bad leaders need to do to improve their perceived leadership effectiveness. Many of the factors Jack Zenger and Folkman point out in their recent HBR articles are common sense behaviors and actions not being practiced commonly enough. Their data show that taking these change steps are especially effective in increasing the success of leaders who’ve been formerly regarded as poor, but they can improve all leaders.

So, read these articles and stop holding yourself back by under performing behaviors that yo can change.


Unique Connection: Principle #1– For Engaging and Influencing People

Principle #1: Limiting Information vs. Data Dump Engages the Imagination
“Focus and engagement can mean the difference between a highly persuasive presentation and a long, convoluted, and confusing one. Why say more when you can target and make a difference in the audience members attitude, thinking and future action? Remember when communicating and connecting with others oftentimes the person who has a clear and concise message rather than a long-winded and disorganized message wins.

With a “unique connect” there is a certain rhythm to communicating and developing a positive response to your message. When presenting if the speaker creates a connection it can lead to a great value proposition. Unique Connectfits – fits the need and wants of the audience, fits the problem and opportunities being discussed, and fits within a larger system of effective relationship building and leadership. A great presentation engages and influences the attitudes and behaviors of people. A great speech changes how people think, relate and work.  A focused and engaging presentation allows others to see and discover ideas and opportunities for changes that produce a new and better life. A great presentation, like great leadership, has the power to inspire and change he world.

The ability to constantly achieve “unique connections” through exceptional communication techniques , like setting clear expectations, requires a solid and “sticky” message strategy, one that answers the question that keeps most leaders up at night.

How do we make a difference and stay relevant in a cluttered, confusing and disengaged world?

Leadership Journey–How does Obama measure-up to these Six Laws of Leadership

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”  Theodore M. Hesburgh

How has President Obama  done in developing a compelling narrative? Has his governing vision and priorities for policy actions aligned with his campaign promises? What has been his style of leadership?  In what ways has he and his team succeed in creating Change we can believe-In? Were the problems to big and expectations to great for his team to produce meaningful results that make a difference in your life? He can refuse to let himself and his team off the hook for not delivering on the promises of hope and change. This would help focus his team on helping people and producing results that matter or he  can continue to reflect on the way Bush and his team have left the country in shambles. Either way this is not a winning strategy for growing and developing a more robust and growing economy that creates meaningful jobs. In reading the recent, New York Times article on the Obama’s reflections on his first two years entitled The Education of President Obama – I was struck by the many insights about his leadership style that seemed so different from the campaigner we thought we were electing.  So I went back and re-read the article to see how Obama and his team measures up to what I consider Six important Laws of Leadership.

Continue reading “Leadership Journey–How does Obama measure-up to these Six Laws of Leadership”

To Be a Committed Leader–Dream and DO

Committed Leader by M.W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

To lead is to dream and do…

to let go of fears and criticism

to see beyond the obvious …

to give credit away…

to lead at the pleasure of followers…

to see and share a vision

to anticipate and articulate a new way forward

to be enthusiastic, passionate and on PURPOSE…

to care

to focus

to flex

to deliver

to be open-minded

to be in touch

to collobrate , cooperate and above all



and say THANK YOU, thank you, thank you…

and  PLEASE ….more often …

and…and… and … remember


The successful of the world have used their imagination. They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details…steadily building.” Robert Collier

Learning How to Learn

The following poem is based on a reflection from Peter Drucker–“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn. ”
Peter Drucker

LEARN HOW 2 LEARN by Mark W. Hardwick,Ph.D.

Develop self-discipline in daily life.

Life  from the moment you are born 2 the moment you die, is a process of learning.

Set goals and stay focused on your learning priorities.

See potential as limitless to open up life-long learning opportunities.

Distinguish between how you learn and what you want to learn

Recognize ways in which your learning is supported by others.

Accept your limitations and know your strengths

Live a a life of continuous improvement

Be open to learning and never stop growing.

Focus on learning regardless of how you are being graded

Accept and learn from mistakes

It is only through learning  that we begin to know.

Seek feedback on how you are learning and developing

Learn not only to find what you like,

Learn to like what you discover through experience.

Learning always energizes the learner.

The least of the work of learning is done in the classroom.

Change is the end result of all true learning.

Stay fresh. Do what needs doing…doing…is the secret…to LEARNING

Meaningful Constructive Living Principle # 3: Motivation and Servant Leadership

” The great leader is seen as a servant first, and that simple fact is the key to a leader’s greatness.”  Robert Greenleaf

Motivation and how to get people to do their best has been an ongoing challenge for most people in families, sports and business. Everyone at some time or another has had a  “slump” or got “stuck” in the difficulties of life. The challenge is how to push through these breakdowns and re-energize yourself to do the best you can? Continue reading “Meaningful Constructive Living Principle # 3: Motivation and Servant Leadership”

Reflection #21: A Model for Leadership– Alan Grayson a Profile in Courage

“Words are like heavy burdens for some. Like rocks or weights on your back. If birds talked they might not fly.” 

President Obama is carrying a heavy burden in trying to live up to his lofty words–Change You can believe in, Yes, we can etc and now the  Nobel Peace Prize adds to the expectations. An example of “high expectations” is Health Care Reform.  His promise during the campaign season on Universal Health has morphed many times during the last nine months.  At first, the talk was about the need and right of all Americans to Health Care through an ambitious and long over due single payer system like “Medicare for All”.  The “Single-payer” idea was thrown under the bus before it was even given a chance, then a public option to provide competition for insurance companies is being attacked by opponents as a government takeover and a Co-Op Health System was too hard to figure out. So, the latest compromise being discussed is to just let the States choose whether to adopt a public option or not. What a mess is created when there is little leadership shown on driving a simple, clear, and consistent message.  As we all know words are cheap, but action and follow-through are hard because it requires courage, risk, and an understandable message delivered over and over again.

Obama and his team seem to be ready to settle for any bill so they can  justify the time and political capital spent on this intractable problem. Maybe they need to reflect on this powerful message from Eric Hoffer, long time change philosopher and longshoremen. Hoffer said: “In human affairs every solution only sharpens the problem, to show us more clearly what we are up against, there are no FINAL SOLUTIONS.”  

President Obama the time for leadership is now. Leaders Serve Period, so no more waiting for others to carry the burden of action. You and your team must step-up, people are dying everyday. The following speech by Alan Grayson, House Rep from Florida, demonstrates the assertive and “profiles in courage” we need. Please Mr. President show this to your team and stop fiddling around. 

Leadership Connection: Cultivate Followers and Develop Presence

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” John Molloy

I have been talking about the effective of “first impressions” for the last couple of blogs. I hope the evidence has been through enough for you to now realize how it impacts your interpersonal relationships and opportunities.  Oviously, the effect is more than most of us think. Some of you may dismiss this concept as others being superficial but the truth is “first impressions” communicate to others how you feel about yourself and what you stand for. Also, be aware that others will very seldom level or tell you what they think or feel because this is a very personal and sensitive issue.  You can help findout more by openingly asking what they think and how you came across when they first met you. When receiving the feedback don’t become defensive or blow people off; this can be valuable information for self-development.  Now let’s talk more  about how “first impressions” lead to a feeling and concept called–Leadership Presence.

Let’s begin by defining Leadership Presence–It is the way a person carries and presents himself  to others. In leadership parlance, it is a person who is at ease and comfortable in their own skin and with diverse people in many situations; be it at a bowling alley or at a Congressional budget hearing.  Those who have “it” are relaxed and composed under pressure and  can connect quickly, communicate in a clear and compelling manner, skillfully handle difficult situations and look, sound and act in ways that inspire others to follow them. And without followers their is no leader.  Beyond that, Presence is the ability to inspire people one to one, in small groups or large audiences, build strong relationships, impress and influence others and be accepted by diverse followers.Sounds like you need to walk on water.

For some people, extroverts , executive presence is a natural extension of who they are  but for others developing executive presence will require some developmental work.

You might ask where and how do I start to develop these critical leadership skill?

Here is my Smart-Step Prescription for you:

1. Assess what you do well now and keep doing those things.
2. Next gather feedback on what you need to improve.
3. Focus on changing your likeability.  For example, practice using your natural warm smile  or making steady eye contact with others (3-5 seconds).
4. Just like changing you golf swing get a video of yourself presenting, conducting a staff meeting or interviewing someone.
5. Get feedback on how you come across and impact others. This feedback analysis will help identify blind spots and strengths.
6. Remember Practice makes Permanent and Perfect Practice makes Perfect.

These reflective and feedback actions will help you fine tune your natural strengths and improve your ability to connect and make positive first impressions.

The Challenge Response + Optimism: A Framework 4 Handling Situational Stress.

During our recent Facilitation and Presentation workshops at the National Educators Forum, many attendees expressed the need for more information on how to overcome their stress and anxiety when facing an audience.  Research has shown that most of our presentation anxiety symptoms, including sweaty palms, dry mouth, increased heart rate, headaches, backaches and loss of thoughts can be caused or influenced by our thinking, feelings and stress levels. Continue reading “The Challenge Response + Optimism: A Framework 4 Handling Situational Stress.”