From now on they will call me Hambone

This time of year is nostalgic. About a month ago, I passed by the old football field as I returned from work. My first thought was about how tough the first two weeks of the season always were. I have never sweated like I sweat during the brutal practices of the first two weeks of a football season. Then the emotions of how it all started came over me. The first season of football would be a determining factor in how I approached the rest of my life.
I barely remember how I got started in football. I certainly had not planned it out. I was out on a bike ride with my best friend when we rode by the sports shop where you put your name on the list to sign-up. My friend was eager to be on the football team. He was an aggressive kid and more of a natural athlete than I was. The reality of it all was I knew nothing about football, and I was not an overly physical kid. About a month later, I got a phone call from a new teammate. Practice starts next week.
I had played baseball for years. I was not great, but I enjoyed being on a team. In my head, I think I assumed that football was going to be a lot like being on a baseball team. I had not even considered how physical football was. I also did not realize what a boys club I was joining and how I came in as an outsider. Most of the kids on the team had been playing together for about 3-4 years.
I was way out of shape going into the season, and the first couple of days of practice only amplified it. Unlike baseball, these coaches were closer to drill instructors. They constantly pointed out how I was dragging behind or not as quick as my other teammates. It was apparent these coaches were partial to the kids that had been on the team previously, almost ignoring us new kids. If I thought it couldn’t get worse, practices with pads started in week two.
My teammates’ punishment kicked up new levels once we all were in pads. The tenured kids on the team that were aggressive and use to hitting were constantly targeting me. They could see my discomfort and hesitation and took full advantage. Even during breaks, they would run behind, slamming their helmets like a sledgehammer into my helmet. The coaches almost seemed to ignore it. Looking back, I wonder if they hoped the behavior would slim out the herd. After three days of this, I could take no more and walked off mid-practice. As I rode off, the coach yelled to make sure to return the pads.
The bike ride home only offered a brief sense of relief. I knew I would have to go home and tell my father I had quit. He was surprised to see me when I arrived and quickly asked why I was home early. I told him how it was going and that I was not cut out for the sport. I think the lack of attention from coaches and the fear he saw in me that he was not willing to accept. Maybe he knew if I started to quit now, it could be the start of so many more things I don’t follow through with going forward. “Get in the car,” he told me. “I’m taking you back down there.”
When we pulled up, the coach met my father halfway, and the yelling almost started immediately. He had told me to wait in the car, so I was unsure what was said. My father was backing down an inch, though. The others kids all stood and watched as they yelled it out. Eventually, it stopped. The two spoke for another moment, and my father returned to the car. He said, “you’re going back tomorrow.”
Dad took me home and explained how I needed to hold my head up. He showed me some tricks and tried to help me understand not to fear the hit. Dad got me a jersey instead of the heavy t-shirt I was wearing in the 90-degree heat. He let me know he would come and watch and support me through it. Still, I knew the boys wouldn’t make this easy, and now they had all kinds of ammunition to use against me.
I returned with my head high and ready to put in total effort. The teammates that had been hard on me continued to be hard on me, I took their hits and worked hard. The season was tough, and I didn’t play a lot. I was not the coach’s favorite kid, and he preferred to avoid me. If I got it right, he certainly said so, though. I bet the coach was surprised that I signed up for a second season the following year.
Football was what it was. I was never an insider with any of the teammates. My second season was easier because there was new fresh meat, although I still took my licks. Football is not where the story ends.
By ninth grade, I was well known among most of the team and rarely had an issue. Some were just bullies and constantly took shots at me. In eighth grade, my thyroid had quit on me, and I gained a bunch of weight. Reading class had become unrelenting. Frank to one side of me, and Misty sat in front of me. The two of them constantly were making verbal jabs at me. One day, as class ended, Frank looked at me and said, “you know what? I’m going to call you Hambone. You are shaped just like one.” I remember thinking this was going to be a whole new level.
Frank shared several classes with me, so it spread like wildfire. Each class, he would rally and tell all the kids around him that I was to be known as Hambone. To better understand, it is only fair that I share Frank was no slim jim himself. One could say he was larger than me. I spent the next week or so just shrugging it off, realizing it was not going away.
I was a heavy kid, but I didn’t want or need the stigma that comes with it. Many of my choices were not great ones. Fight against it, taking the physical abuse that often came with it. Of course, I could go to the administration, but that would likely worsen it. Most of my classmates found it amusing, and Frank would not let up.
My particular lesson from football is how I decided to move forward. I was not going to let fear drive how I approached the situation. The lesson my dad had taught me by walking back onto the field was not just about not quitting. It was about holding my head up and that only I could stand up for myself. So, I owned it. Sure, call me Hambone. In the early days, it was a sticks and stones kind of approach. At first, the less I let it bother me, the more frustrating it became for the bullies to use it against me.
Over time it became a brand, the name used in respect. It did not bother me, and I was not afraid of them. By the end of the year, most people had just shortened it to Bone. No one used the name any longer as an attempt to belittle or demean me. They used it as any other name of any other classmate. It had become a badge of courage for me.
I look at football differently than most other kids. I attended school with no. I do not see it as camaraderie or a sport I would recommend, not entirely because of the hitting. I went on to play 25 years of Hockey. The sport is poorly administered over and constantly has pockets of bad apples. The damage I took on the field has followed me throughout life, both physically and mentally. I did take the most I could from it and have never looked back.

Focus your networking in your community, not company

Throughout a career, networking will be an essential topic and effort that is put forth. Many organizations will find pockets of leaders or department heads that need to be part of your inner circle for career success or achieve that next promotion on your list. The traditional approach of corporate networking is short-sided and primarily benefits the organization and rarely the person putting in the effort. More importantly, it often only helps the career within that organization. 

Work should be something that helps support living and not the latter approach of living to work. Understanding this approach builds on the importance of focusing more on networking within your community and the place you live. Establishing relationships that will always be available whenever needed, regardless of location or time, is a stronger networking foundation. This networking approach of the generation before us developed loyalty and supported civics. It shaped and built the towns as we see and live in them today. 

In most organizations, a large part of career development and progression is focused on networking within the company. These promotion seekers are reaching out to partner with other leaders in the organization to create what is often referred to as synergies. Is it something that leads to career success, and more importantly, does it lead to results? Often the answer is no. The effort or partnership often dilutes before it can transition to actual results. It is rare to hear that someone was promoted simply because they knew or partnered with someone. 

A mind-shift must occur regarding networking and how it leads to longevity and other measurements of a successful career. The mind-shift is really about who will be there to support your career. Will it be the organization getting ready to lay you off? Is it likely you will spend your entire career with the same company? If part of the purpose of a job is the return received from your experience and career growth, your community will be the consistent passenger. 

There are so many challenges faced throughout a career. Some of those challenges are presented by the firms and companies. Others are due to the events and people that surround us, things that impact our families. Examples from our communities may be schools, the local economy, recreation, politics, and all the changes that shape and evolve a community. Your community will be there hand in hand throughout all the challenges faced.

Networking in partnering within your community will lead to the loyalty and civics that support long-term success in a career. Working with neighbors and local business leaders to build up and support your community will develop the network needed when times become challenging or when it is time for a promotion. Civics will be the work that creates the results required. Civics is the responsibility and obligations we hold towards our neighbors and community. The work is very similar to what it looks like within the walls of any business. The skills and experience gained are completely transferable.  

Your neighbors and friends, and community business leaders are always watching. They see how you always show up and follow through. They see how you support and contribute to those around you. They were there when you helped their son or daughter get their first job or how well you coached their kids through sports. When the high school debate team needed help with the fundraiser, your community watched how you created a plan, worked with others, and achieved the goal. All the skills developed in supporting and fulfilling community obligations translate to career success. 

What legacy is achieved through efforts to network with individuals who may have no influence on your life within the next few years?

Building a network within your community is more than just being a good neighbor. It takes the same intent, planning, and follow-through needed to network and develop a career within an organization. Some great ways to get involved start with your chamber of commerce. What events or even development classes are they offering? This can be a great way to meet local business leaders and understand the unique local challenges they are facing. Let’s look at some other great ways to partner and network in your community:

Look for a bipartisan city club or group. Traditionally these groups have social lunches and dinners with speakers who discuss local issues and the actions to address them. 

Attend and participate in city council meetings. Often these meetings address changes that are coming and challenges the city is facing. It is easy to establish new relationships and get involved. Who knows where it leads. There is a lot to gain from attending city council meetings. Reviewing the city calendar may show other significant events to attend. 

Attend school board meetings and or join your child’s school’s PTO. Education and all the decisions surrounding it will directly impact your child’s education. This impact is not just true for a child’s educational learning but also for how they develop socially. 

There are many ways to network and engage with your community. It may sound like a lot of additional time or energy, but shift the energy and time that would have been exhausted in your professional environment. I remember hours spent talking and networking with people, especially if it was some work event after hours. I would try and catch as many people as I could. This time can be very unproductive, yielding little to no results. It is essential to create balance, there are work hours, and those hours are used to achieve the specific outcomes and goals outlined by the detailed role description.  

There is a clear line between acceptable efforts and a curriculum supporting development towards career growth. A significant opportunity in almost all organizations is creating transparent and clear paths that lead to a promotion. What legacy is achieved through efforts to network with individuals who may have no influence on your life within the next few years? In most cases, the work completed by individuals speaks for itself. The ability to leverage tangible skills and translate them into sustainable results should be the first consideration in who is presented with the next promotion. Unfortunately, there are many times when intangibles will be the driving factor in promotion decisions. 

Most people never leave the community from their childhood. So when building a long-standing network to support the longevity and legacy of a career, your community seems to make the most sense. When times of change come, who will be there to support you? It will be the people who have seen the example of your commitment and follow-through, the people you have supported and taken care of, and your more extensive organization, your community. 

The accountability is all yours

Dan Barker

Leadership Lab

We develop at a young age that follows us into our careers. The behaviors around accountability are the most difficult to approach and sort through. I can think of so many events and memories from my childhood that contributed to how I look at accountability and everything that swirls around it. Accountability is not just a tool managers get to swing when things are not going right. Accountability is a skill that enables each person to have a superpower made up of ownership and the ability to accept and action feedback.
My father is a great storyteller. He could tell the most amazing stories, bringing the character’s life with all the nonverbal animations you would expect from a father telling stories to his young boys. One that has always stuck with me was George Washington and the Cherry tree. A tale of a boy that had to face his father, knowing what he had done was wrong. My father must have told me this story a hundred times as a child. It is not just the integrity that is the apparent undertone of the story. It’s the standup accountability. It is an excellent example of how their shame does not come from having to own up to the mistake. Instead, it recognizes that the act was an opportunity to make a better decision. Strong decision-making is a principle of ownership. Learning not to make the same wrong decision twice is essential.
The fourth-grade year was a tough one for me. I remember having challenges with my schooling. I do not precisely recall why. Looking back, I do not remember having close friends. I started a paper route that was 72+ newspapers six days a week. It was the beginning of where I developed the strong work ethic I have today. Something that also started was my challenging school career. My focus was something that took me into my twenties to develop. I’m so easily distracted. I’m constantly wondering what else would be fun right now. I remember that day fourth grade ended. Back in those days, the report card was just handed to you as you walked out the door. Of course, I had little consideration for what was on it. I was way more focused on the summer ahead of me.
When I arrived home, my mom happened to be there. She had got off work early. She asked about my last day of school. I shared the day’s events and mentioned that my report card was in my backpack, and she went and retrieved it. I wish I could say that this look was one I would only witness once. It’s a combination of astonishment, fury, and disappointment. I received an F in one of my courses. My first, unfortunately not my last. My mother gathered herself and let me know that we would work through this. She was clear that I had some summer school in my future. The constant example that many of us need is not to walk away from our failures. Anything can be learned or achieved with practice and hard work. The big lesson is that there is the right way to own your trajectory and growth and that education is essential. It would be easy to say better luck next year. There is also a way to identify what you could have done better and then prove that you can achieve your goal the next time around.
From these two examples I shared, you realize that I’m likely the most accountable person ever, a boss’s dream employee. My parents would attest to the complete grace and understanding that I showed through these events. Accountability is a long journey, and, in most cases, the receiver reaps all the benefits while their leader takes all the shots. Eventually, through development, growth, and experience, accountability becomes a skill we all learn to use effectively in our careers. I have shared my early learnings from my Mcdonald’s career. However, I could not learn all these lessons at once. Several of them came back around and haunted me for years.
Early in my professional career, working in contact centers, I made a shift from one company to another. I was starting with an up-and-coming telecommunications company, and they were new to the valley. It was an inspiring time for me. I needed the change. My career was going nowhere quickly with my current company. I had an early shift with the new company, and I was not the best at getting up with an alarm. The snooze button had done me in, and within 30 days, I had three late occurrences and a written corrective action to go with it. My new boss was not messing around. He was sure to set expectations and a clear example of how too many occurrences will be handled. I was beyond upset about how it all went.
Excuses will never be tolerated is the lesson that I finally had to learn. It’s not because no one cares. It is because it is all about chance and a lack of preparation. It shows no effort to be intentional and own up to our decisions and actions. There had been previous conversations. It’s not like I did not have context from previous jobs on the impact of late having on myself and those that work around me. The reality is showing up on time is the most basic expectation. It likely was why I had struggled to advance in my previous company. It is the ownership and commitment that comes with being accountable that my employer and all other employers are looking for.

The result of accountability is the key to career success.


Accountability is the key to opening so many other skills. Accountability is about the willingness to take on the responsibility and ownership that will eventually lead. The primary skill that comes from accountability is ownership. True ownership allows for the opportunity to anticipate and be planful. People that operate with ownership can quickly determine what things are in their sphere of control versus concern and act on them. With improved ownership comes an ability to understand which levers impact results and an ability to perform versus being proactive. Both individuals and leaders should consider how well their accountability meter is working if they find themselves constantly reacting to the things around them. 


The willingness to accountability creates openness to feedback. When there is a lack of ownership, it is not just about the impacted results. The actions and outcomes that support those results are not accounted for either. This means that each time poor performance is brought up, it could be a complete surprise to the individual, or at least in their mind, it is a complete surprise. Companies and leaders love to lean into the adage "feedback is a gift" this, simply put, is not valid. The statement only supports one side of the conversation. It means that leaders think everything said is gold or will always lead to improvement. Leaders should consider the learning more than the feedback. Did the feedback drive change? The behaviors of ownership open the door to feedback acceptance. People work best in a collaborative environment. Accepting feedback and the conversation reflects that ownership is far more critical for learning and long-term success. It ultimately leads to the actions that will drive change. Dissatisfaction is still part of the change model. Dissatisfaction is not a stick or a tool for leaders. 


As the skill of ownership and actioning feedback are mastered comes confidence. Confidence is what really helps to shape a career. It allows for further accountability leading to that superpower that comes from being a person that creates autonomy in their work. Better acumen is developed, and decision-making more consistently yields positive results. The gained confidence and autonomy allow each of us that control over the work that we do. Autonomy is what leads to innovation and risk-taking. The superpower of realizing skills and how they can be utilized is the value proposition each person brings. Careers are about the journey and the growth and not the list of mistakes and failures they helped to bring on each of the positive changes that have taken place. 

How leaders can drive ownership

  • Expectations: The most common mistake made by leaders who struggle to achieve consistent results is in how well they set expectations. When performance is not where it needs to be, the first step should always be what is the expectations and how well it has been set. Not set like communicated but set like a foundation. Leaders need to set expectations early and not just in the moment, check in throughout, and make sure that all expectations are measurable.
  • Influence: Leaders need to learn to motivate in other ways beyond the carrot and the stick. Instead, leaders should be mindful of how they are developing skills within their team. Understand the motivations of each of their team members and find ways to create purpose in the work that is done each day. The process in how goals are set, managed, and rewarded are also important tactics in supporting daily rigor. Instead of accountability, leaders should recognize that the sword they yield is influence.
  • Decision Making: Beyond expectations and skills, leaders need to develop acumen. Many factors and even required politics must be managed in how decisions are made in an organization. The short-term and long-term impacts of decisions must be reviewed with new leaders. Leaders need to help their team members understand the partnerships and follow-up necessary to support decisions that lead to desired outcomes.
    Developing the behaviors need to support accountability
    Great leaders that want to take the time to take the shots that come with helping others work toward accountability are not as common as you would think. Individuals looking to grow in their careers or fast-track themselves in leveling up can look at some other options to assist in developing stronger awareness and the skills surrounding accountability.

Ways to develop skills to support accountability

  • Emotional Intelligence: A lot of our challenges come from not understanding how we use the information of our emotions. Developing stronger self-awareness of our interpersonal skills and empathy are great tools to aid in transforming from reacting to situations to creating intentional and purposeful planning. A book or course can be significant. For best results, seek out a certified practitioner. Having an action plan and measuring results is always the best approach to support development.
  • Coaching: Work with a coach that can be objective. It would be best if you found a coach that also understands accountability. A person that can be direct and supports an open candor. You want a coach that can understand the business and draw out the perspective of both sides. Each session should have some homework or take-always. It is best to add goals that can be measured. Everyone needs consistent coaching for improvement. If you are not getting this within your organization, be sure to seek it out on your own.
  • Develop a more robust process for planning and goal setting: Often, the challenge with accountability is evaluating how the efforts lead to an impact and if the impact was the one desired. Individuals looking to grow their careers should spend time planning out their goals and desires. Put milestones in place that will help guide the way and show when it is time to adjust the plan. Take time each day to journal the workday, call out insights, lessons learned, and results achieved.

Punishment and guilt are far from accountability. Consider that there are prisons full of guilty people that have never been accountable for their actions. To this day, no authority has been able to hold them accountable. Accountability is a behavior developed from within a person, and it is a state of being. The result of accountability is the key to career success. Learning to be more intentional and accountable for where it takes you.

The Wayward Manager – We’re moving to Frisco

An intro into the 4th leg of my relocation journey. This move is only halfway through the journey.

I never saw myself leaving the Pacific Northwest. I certainly never thought that I would live in Texas. I remember being at our department face-to-face meeting when my boss casually threw out the offer of moving to a new site. “Hey trick, want to move to Frisco” he yelled. At the time, the proposal was as much a joke as the actual question. I laughed it off and went about the week attending meetings and collaborating with team members I rarely got to see face to face. Somehow by the time I was driving home from Bellevue to Salem, I was having a serious conversation with my wife about throwing my name in the hat as the Resource Planning manager of the Frisco, TX location.
Frisco played a large part in my leadership journey. There were so many situations that required great self-awareness and quick decision-making. I learned a lot about culture, how it shapes people, and how to show understanding of that culture. It made a difference in knowing the best way to approach somebody and see them for who they are.
On my first visit to Frisco, I met the site director. This site director would be one of the most authentic leaders I ever would get to work under. This director was a leader that spoke his mind but relied on his team to identify insights that led to improved performance. He expected his senior leaders to be business owners that could partner together to drive the business. It was not uncommon for a good debate to occur during a meeting, and disagreements were encouraged. I remember walking into his office, one of the smallest director’s offices I had ever seen. When I walked in for our initial one-on-one, I remember him getting up from behind his desk to sit in the chair next to me. It quickly lowered the waterline between us, and he talked candidly about what he saw as opportunities for my team and his expectations.
When I took over the Salem team, I was an outsider. I was a new manager and came from a national role outside the center. Early on, if anything, the team rallied within each other. No one broke from the group to share internal team concerns. When I arrived in Frisco, several team members were quick to pull me aside and talk of work imbalances and unfair or, if anything, inconsistent practices. I should have known that I was in for a new experience when one of them had asked how old I was because I sounded young. The team had an opportunity to learn the role and all the tools used to accomplish it.
In the early days, I spent a lot of time working side by side with team members. Using a shoulder-to-shoulder approach, team members allowed me to observe, teach and set expectations in one sit-down session. I was much more comfortable with my executive presence and knew that being transparent, even with tough messages, was better than the uncertainty that comes from being unclear. I had learned my lessons on where to be diplomatic versus when to put non-negotiables in place.
One of the significant changes with this team was not having a supervisor role within my team. The supervisor position was dissolved and had not been filled before my arrival. I learned to lead differently and not rely on a supervisor for day-to-day communication. I assigned my team members to team managers, almost shifting their roles into analysts. In their meetings with the team managers, my team member would address any needs and communicate our department’s priorities. The Frisco site had three floors, so I split my department and staffed both production floors, creating better accessibility for our operation partners.
Unlike my Salem site, the Frisco location was open 24 hours, seven days a week. Being a new leader and spending most of my early days in meetings between 9-5, I had team members I scarcely knew. I would have phone calls late at night. There were many days when I would go home, have dinner, and put the family to bed. Then I would go back to work to be with my overnight team members. The early days blend so much that I can barely remember any specifics from them.
I was now an experienced manager, and I wanted to start building the experience and exposure needed to climb to the next level of my career. Instead of just being able to call out the problems, I wanted to start working to find solutions. I wanted to develop credibility so that my boss would see me as his first “go-to” when he needed something. I knew this would be tough. Many of our problems were complex and involved systems and people. I was part of a well-tenured and experienced team, and on any given day, any of us could be stand-outs.
I partnered with team members and addressed two significant issues while in Frisco. The first issue was that we had teams that handled very low volume and spent a lot of their work time idle. I identified a solution where we could leverage the existing staffing between all these groups into one sizeable specialized team. The solution helped increase productivity and overtime. Eventually, the solution created an opportunity for these teams to have more standard hours of operation.
It can be challenging to stand out on a highly talented and tenured team. I did not want to compete in a way that pushed my teammates out of the way. In some areas, I did not even have the skill needed. I had to work on developing stronger skills in MS Excel and using the tools we had for analyzing the business. Working to show up first and be early as often as possible was something I leaned into often. This upskilling and planning helped build a leadership role within my peer group and the trust of my leader that I was ready for the next step in my career.
Additionally, it gave me an opportunity for my department to partner with another within our site. This partnership created an opportunity for us to work together on analyzing the business and its impacts. The partnership helped provide insights operations could use in driving efficiencies and improved performance.
I received a lot of recognition while in Frisco. I was recognized by the local senior leadership team for my efforts to partner and drive performance. I received recognition as a values player who developed the credibility to be a leader amongst my peers. Just as my Frisco journey seemed like it could not get any better, soon, I would be looking for a job!
Let me tell you a bit of the personal side, a little behind the curtain of what life is like for a relocating manager.
The Texas move was a huge one for my family. In OR, we were only an eight-hour drive from family. My wife and I had grown up in the Pacific Northwest, and it was a culture that we were very familiar with. Everything is bigger in Texas.
We now had two toddlers and only one car. Sometimes my working hours would house lock my wife for hours in the home with two toddlers. You do not have as many close friends when you move over a thousand miles from home every three years. I did not make enough money to allow us to see family during the holidays.
My weight had become an issue. I remember the night I realized I had yet again grown out the next pants size. With the long work hours and the traditional weight that often comes from having kids, I was touching on 300lbs. I could not imagine needing to go up another size. I couldn’t afford it either.
I spent the next six months focused on getting healthy and losing weight. I wish I could tell you there is a magic pill. It took two works outs a day and a lot of chicken and brown rice, which I continued eating for the next several years to maintain. If I had not made this change, I easily would be well over 300lbs and all the medical issues that potentially come with it.
As the first 12 months of Frisco moved by, we saw progress. Even with the challenges of spending a lot of our savings to visit home, we were starting to consider buying a home. We began to see ourselves settling in Frisco. We began to talk to Realtors and banks about purchasing a house. How was I supposed to know I would not have a job in a few months?

Decision Making and MBTI Type

Dan Barker

Idaho Leadership Lab

How is decision-making developed in leaders? The challenge is understanding where to start in helping to develop decision-making. It is something that I get asked for the most in working with executives to develop high-potential leaders.

When considering an approach to developing decision-making in leaders, it can be hard to identify a starting point. What is the foundation of decision-making? How can it be dissected to show leaders the correct approach to decision-making? Is it philosophy, maybe utilitarianism? Another hot topic or go-to for coaches is going through some hierarchy of needs. The easy out is to talk more about culture and values, but this approach only offers a one-sided framework for decision-making. The reality is everyone makes decisions differently. 

For leaders, it is not just about how they make decisions but how the situation impacts the leader’s decision-making. The art of great decision-making is where developing executives can differentiate from their peers in career advancement potential. All leaders are hired on some “sleep at night” factor and the trust that comes with it. Excellent decision-making is what establishes this credibility for leaders. 

Most of us do not even realize how deep-rooted we are in how we make decisions. Our process for decision-making is developed from day 1 of life, and this is the challenge for any leader looking to develop decision making. We all start to build our decision-making process at a young age. The foundation of decision-making for almost all people is centered around safety and security. Breaking down decision-making requires developing a new level of self-awareness. It is the first place all leaders should begin shaping their decision-making by getting to know themselves even better. 

Like a whistle that stops play in a game, self-awareness should do the same for leaders and decision-making—allowing for a strategy to take over. The “take over” strategy replaces the natural early developed process of a reaction. These reactions are often done without thought and usually do not support consistency leading to improved results. For some, it is as simple as never deciding at the moment. However, things are ever-changing, and time is not always the convenience leaders are afforded. The potential for poor decision-making is why it is so critical that leaders understand how they make decisions as individuals first.

Let me walk you through an example. What I know about my personality is that I like to go after solutions, which also means I’m quick to choose a direction. I work well at going after results and developing the tasks to support them. For you 4Dx fans, I can quickly identify some lead activities that will impact my lag result. I’m also able to handle a crisis effectively. It is essential to call out that strengths also have potential pitfalls that come with them. These pitfalls occur because of the blind spots in our decision-making process. These are the areas that require development and self-awareness.

Like uncle Ben shared in Spider-Man, “with great strength comes great responsibility.” Instead of looking at blind spots as opportunities or weaknesses, I see them as a place of “responsibility.” I know that I can get focused on the result and move so quickly that I do not share all the details. I also know that I can be more concentrated on pragmatism than the emotional needs of others. Leaders need to be aware that it is not just bad decision-making that is the result. Poor decision-making often creates a downward spiral. 

Bad decision-making is what diminishes all organizations. Leaders are not simply guilty of bad decision-making. Instead, leaders are creating poor direction and likely impacting costs to the business negatively. Poor decision-making will certainly affect employee morale, productivity, and retention. 

When self-awareness is developed and can replace our initial reactions, a plan of action or supporting strategy can be created. Developing or aspiring executives can work to focus on the responsibility of decision-making and all the impacts. For someone like myself, it is essential to ponder on a decision before sharing and consider if it is sustainable long-term. Each week when meeting with my coach, we can review decisions and how I intentionally worked through them, who I included, and how I determined it was sustainable. Review the impacts afterward to determine how the improved process leads to positive impacts. 

Meyers-Briggs is a great way to start taking a more robust look at yourself. It helps to give you insight into what makes you, you. By developing a clearer sense of self-awareness and awareness of others, you’re able to better frame decisions, reduce miscommunication, and understand personal needs more effectively. MBTI can help validate some traditional ways you approach decision-making and some improvement strategies. 

What else can MBTI do:

  • Measure your personality preferences in the MBTI framework
  • Provide career insight into what jobs you’ll find interesting
  • Help you understand behavior and personality preferences
  • Give you insight into communication habits
  • Help you better understand other people
  • and so, so much more…

MBTI is something that can be done 1:1 as personal development or in a team-building workshop. Interest in learning more? Send me a private message or email me @

What is Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Wayward Manager – Oregon 2.0

In so many situations, every leader thinks, if only I had another chance. However, time travel is not possible, and there are no true do-overs.  I probably should also call out that there are no take backs either. Leaders need to learn to be accountable and learn from their past and especially their mistakes. So although I did not get a complete do-over as a leader, I had an opportunity to have my 2.0 approach.

            Within two years of being in my post in Oregon, so many things had changed. My two original leaders had both moved on to corporate roles. The site director was new to Oregon and promoted into his role. The site also had a new senior manager who quickly became one of the most challenging people I had ever had to partner in operations. The other support managers were now all new and still working to keep their heads above water. The environment had become a place where performance is the only focus.

            My team had changed entirely. Almost every team member was new from when I initially started—having a team where I influenced virtually any hiring decision made a significant difference in their alignment to my vision. My outward approach of being more than just your department was a part of almost every decision we made as a team. The operations managers and I had built a strong rapport, and I had become a trusted peer to most of them. I had a brand new supervisor in our department and a well-experienced analyst who became a trusted confidant. The culture had changed for all of us.

            All teams present an opportunity for development. My new team was no different. They needed to develop the emotional intelligence that allowed them to focus on the more significant wins. It is easy for departments like mine to become viewed as a team that is policing the business. This policing creates barriers for business partners and changes how flexible a group is perceived. The other opportunity was how the team partnered with operations teams to contribute to national objectives. This lack of an execution plan prevented the team from contributing at the larger level and show their significant value.

            The past can be great for data points and analytics. The past is terrible for emotions within an organization, often shaping long-lasting perceptions. As a leader, I got my introduction to emotional intelligence and understanding how to develop team members to be aware of their social surroundings and the politics that go with them. I had to teach team members how to make decisions on where they disagree with leaders—understanding that the impacts of the decision will impact future concessions and partnership. Taking a genuine servitude relationship and realizing that team member experience is a large part of the department goal. As a team, if we create avenues that make team members happier, their leader’s jobs easier. We could identify a gain in productivity, leveraged in partnering to achieve our own department’s objectives.

            Fixing what was first helped in going after the next development opportunity. Building a stronger partnership with operations helped the team in daily management. It required less reaching out and less follow-up from a lack of communication. The improved communication allowed the team to start looking at the business differently and see where they contribute to creating value and the overall return on investment. As a leader, their teams must identify with their purpose and the return on their effort. Teams will struggle without a strong partnership with operational leaders.

            To get the results you have never had, you must be willing to do what you have never done, was the mantra of the new site director. For my team, this usually was how we had to go after getting results tied to national performance. I had to teach my team to lean into their partnerships and ask what was needed to get more flexible staffing, ways to increase and decrease as needed. Understanding the needs and the motivations of their teams allows them to meet where they are at—creating unique situations for the one versus blanket approaches. Once the team could see how their effort made a difference, it showed how critical the balance in partnerships was.

            Organizations are challenging at times, and new team members can go so many ways to impact culture. The change was needed when the new director came on, and when the senior manager role settled, one would have thought that some norming would start to come into play. It was a challenging place of how to balance respect and keeping a seat at the table. The director was full of charisma and certainly knew how to make it look new. It lacked the true fire that created sustainable results. Unfortunate flashes that might pump you up at the moment but lacked the full to get through the whole journey. Much of this was because he spent too much time in their office. This hideaway of the directors created the divide in what was and was not happening.

            The tornado that was the senior manager was my first view into a struggle in power dynamics. Within the organizational hierarchy, this person was above me. On location, my department reported up through the site director, and my leader was a remote senior manager in another location. The new site senior operations leader was drowning daily and would take anyone in reaching distance down with them. When unable to prove you wrong, they would go after your character. Many evenings I would go home wondering what the long-term outcomes would be from my actions that day. I could not always bite my tongue or identify the best response to the efforts of this leader.

            Soon the scramble started. It was not just me challenged with this new leader. My peers reported to the senior operations manager. Often my peers were being pulled in two different directions, operating on half-baked expectations. Adding to the chaos, I also got a new boss after some organizational shifting. I knew I had to take some action. It was hard to know what would be the right move. Most of my partnerships are critical in one way or another.

            It was time to start providing some feedback. It was hard, but I first tried to sit down with the senior operations manager, calling out where we are putting up roadblocks for each other and how the attacks are not professional. It would change our approach for a couple of weeks but quickly disappear. I met with the director sharing my concerns and challenges, discovering I was not the first. Ultimately the director had spent too much time in their own office. When things go unaddressed, they fester, and the damage is not reversible.  The director lacked the leadership courage to take quick action and saw the culture of the site chip away because of it. Trust is hard to build but even harder to re-build once broken.

It summed like things were at a breaking point. I started to think. Eventually, this leader will find a way to ruin me. It was time for our annual trip where all teams in the nation from my department get together. I remember walking into the lobby where everyone gathered when I arrived. My old boss laughing with his peers when I approached he said, “ready to move to Frisco?” Of course, he was joking, wasn’t he?

Away with the old style of leadership

In the movie The Internship, the characters played by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn quickly realize that business is no longer an arena where charisma and popularity rule and more about the new skilled worker of the digital era. Working for that leader who thinks they can be great without genuinely understanding the inner workings of the actual day-to-day work can be frustrating for employees. In a learning organization, the leadership role is more than strategy. Worse is the leader and the long-term impact of watching business pass them by due to a lack of development.

All team members look for different factors in credibility. Old leaders knew how to be charismatic, often great salesman who knew how to sell an idea. These leaders easily identified as the popular jock from high school. In its most current form, it is a leader that has been assessed only on performance and not many of the other important factors that build a leader. These leaders who lack in the competencies of reliability and validity can only represent their team members versus being true advocates for them.

Leadership was not something I had great examples of early on in my career. Most lacked true conviction towards the work we were doing or unable to take shots for their team and lacked loyalty resulting in development. Most leaders I had were entirely in it for themselves and saw their knowledge as part of their power. That power was often any exposure that would allow team members to highlight their talent. Usually, this meant leaders were awarded promotions from a network of good ole boys that ran in a tight circle. As I progressed in my career I used these examples to identify what I didn’t want to be as a leader. The two foundational competencies I identified for my career from this point on were reliability and validity.

Reliability is more than just about showing up on time. As an individual team member, it’s about knowing how to hold up your work and be available to support peers. Leaders need to see reliability through the lens of follow-up and follow-through. Leaders often fail in reliability because it means putting team members before themselves. It takes planning and having priorities aligned towards the people that get results. Reliability implies that leaders look themselves in the mirror and say, “I do what I say I will, and deliver on the deadlines I set.”

Leaders who do not understand how the day-to-day work is completed will struggle to understand the effort required to achieve results. This misalignment often means that priorities will get reset as leaders disregard the impact made on productivity and what it will take to get back on track. Leaders who are not reliable and unwilling to put others before themselves miss out on critical development opportunities. These leaders will consistently place their priorities first or miss-manage their time at the cost of team member development.

I watched my examples of unreliable leaders who chose time with senior leadership versus developing stronger foundations within their team. Instead of learning how tasks are completed in excel or observing how communication supports other teams’ decision-making, they choose another lunch or time that was unproductive. These leaders miss out on building their skill set and offering the additional workforce that would provide for extra development time for all. The worse part was watching these leaders get promoted, catapulting from the backs of their team members.

Reliability sets the stage for validity. A team member or leader that cannot be counted on will never establish the trust needed to be a valid leader. Validity for a team member goes beyond direct skill set and identifies how to enhance it through teamwork. Leaders should see validity as something more about setting goals and driving a team to get there. At its core, validity is all about being able to do what you say you can do. Leaders are valid by meeting up with all the commitments, making sure it’s not just about saying the right thing.

Valid leaders must understand the effort of each goal and the toll it will place on team members. Great leaders can achieve any goal. It’s at what cost that matters. When it comes to team members, it is all about understanding the effort. Leaders that do not know the steps needed for analysis and reporting will struggle to understand the cost of time and mental capacity exhausted to complete. Even more, these leaders will not have the ability to identify the details that could build on efficiency and proactively remove roadblocks.

In performance, we often are fighting for decimals without understanding the lead factors that influence lag results. Leaders may be whipping a team to gain a .10 increase in scorecard performance without considering the effort or the impact. What does the return of .10 in performance bring? My examples often had lost actual perspective of what field employees worked through to come to work, let alone perform well in their job. They made promises of career growth that never came. Leaders that lack validity cannot execute well on expectations from either side of the hierarchy. These leaders, too, cross the river of their career using their team member’s backs as the bridge. These leaders cannot provide the proper recognition and exposure, unable to lean into their skills and effort.

Reliability and validity together shape several traits of a great leader. These leaders can build trust quickly with their team. They are empathetic to their team member’s needs and know what shots to take to keep them productive and set priorities. They bring in their skillset and use shoulder-to-shoulder moments to offer development. These leaders know how to utilize their exposure moments and create additional ones for their team members. These leaders are comfortable leaning into their insights and highlighting the differentiated skills from their team.

Teams are agile now more than ever before, and each person has to bring strength to the team. The days of having the middle man the runs the orders to the technician are gone. Teams do not need a cheerleader that plays the politics. Leaders should be expected to be just as skilled as their team. This awareness of effort is just a small piece of the puzzle needed for greater social awareness. These competencies are just part of the formula that builds the most decisive organizational leader.

The Wayward Manager – The manager role is a lonely one

I never had a move where the timing was great. Something always made the move challenging. All of the relocations we made were a testament to the patience of my wife. Often, I would have to start in my new location before we were ready to move, putting a lot of the work on my wife. Our second move with the company was right on par with all of this.

            Accepting my first manager role was an all-time high for me. It had cemented our independence as adults. My career could not have been in a better place. I was entering a job as a department manager, working for a remote boss. This promotion gave me a lot of autonomy in my daily schedule, and I had exceeded any dreams of an annual salary. The confidence I had gained from setting a career goal and achieving it was unlike any other.

My first night in Salem was nervous and lonely. I had to start in Salem before we were ready to move, leaving my very young family back in Washington. My corporate housing was a hotel with a kitchenette. Thinking about the “first” day before me, I had no idea what I would be doing or expect. This moment of opportunity helped me create one of my most important strategies of relocating and taking on new teams. Create neutral ground, and lower the water level fast. I decided I would start the morning by taking my new leaders to a casual breakfast.

            The first breakfast helped to lower the waterline with my new leaders. They also introduced me to Salem’s best breakfast place, and we returned many times as a team. Lowering the waterline does not mean that all trust and credibility had been established. It just created the avenue for this to happen. We still had many challenges to work through as a leadership team. We did not always see eye to eye, and I brought a new perspective with a plan to establish my processes.

            As a manager, I did not always have the luxury of getting consensus before making a decision. Unfortunately, what the team saw was an outsider coming in and shaking up their routines and comfort. I had a site senior leadership team that struggled to trust my team. These were tricky waters to navigate through when working to build trust with a new team. I made sure to identify the opportunity for individual wins and always made sure my team received impactful exposure to our national team. My leaders knew their business and had a great understanding of their roles.

            Being the first on and last off work ethic in me, which I saw as the fundamental leadership principle, created many shared experiences with my leaders. The build-up of shared experiences over time helps to build some trust and credibility with one another. I had a great mentor that kept telling me, “it’s not about you.” I thought he was joking for the longest time, giving me some line from a tv psychologist. Then I realized he was serious. All the approaches I had made were to suit me and did not consider the person I was coaching at all. It shifted my whole process to coaching, bringing in genuine empathy along with improved self-awareness.

            The other challenge was winning over a senior leadership that had all come up through the ranks together. Most of the leadership team was from Salem, and many had been in the site since it had opened. My department had created a relationship that made them have the perception as the police of the business. It was a  team that had hired too many friends. The team had built a perception of unwillingness to support much of the operations team outside their department. Again, I found the need to develop another lasting strategy in solving this perception problem.

            Find a way as a support department leader to become part of the operations. It’s more than networking or relationship building. It’s about developing a purpose that supports more than just your priorities or the goals for your department. Deliver business insights that make connections to performance and efficiency, find ways to connect to money. Money will always be a universal language when it comes to creating understanding. I also realized that my fellow support managers could be my strongest allies. I could not be successful or get execution without them. The first months as a manager became lonely with many hours worked and even more hours at home in my head.

            My boss was demanding, strong-willed, and made sure to capitalize on every coaching moment.  As a boss, he was prominent on his leaders, and they must know their business inside and out. I was a young leader that often came across as overly assure and as hard-headed as he. In one of our early run-ins, he kicked me off a team conference call when he realized I was not actively paying attention. When there was conflict, he called it out on the table and made you work it out. He wanted each team to achieve top results and expected flawless execution. My favorite was his 6:30 am conference call. Most days, I took the call from a rocking chair with my baby daughter in my arms.

            Within 18 months, almost everything had changed. My two leaders each moved on to other roles outside of the department. I cannot say that we ever really found a great way to work together. We had established good ground rules and showed respect to one another. Trust was something never consistently in place, and the result was each of them moving on to work on other teams with leaders that each already had established trust. One of those truths from emotional intelligence is that anything that goes unresolved too long will fester, and the impact is lasting.

            Reliability and following through with commitments went a long way in building credibility with senior leadership. I worked hard to ensure we communicated well and met any target or commitment that my team set. I did not spend time trying to show how we ranked with other departments like ours nationally. Instead, I focused on the experience team members received within our doors. I worked to build a strong relationship with the site director that allowed us to be candid with one another and showed that I would be a partner regardless of the work or the benefactor.

            My boss remained tough but became one of my most impactful leaders and showed me what loyalty looks like in business. To this day, he is always one of the first to wish me a happy birthday.  He taught me how to be a true business owner and execute a strategy by modeling the process each and every day. This leader was direct with feedback but quick to follow up and teach. I knew I could trust him and that he had my back, which is vital for a young manager. Leaders need to take shots for their people and make sure they are teaching and developing. Of course, I like to think steel sharpens steel, and we made each other better.

About four months into being a manager, I remember driving home one night thinking I was messing everything up. I was utterly unsuccessful as a manager. My team had no trust in each other or me. As a sat at an intersection, I was wondering what must be changed. As a team supervisor, things had gone so well. The significant contrast was how we looked at results. Teams need to be able to identify with how we win together. A scorecard is an excellent tool for how you communicate, strategize and coach your team. As I got better at creating the correct scorecard, things started to come together, reducing the nights of worry. Still, I couldn’t help but think what it would be like if I had a chance to do it all over.