Posts Tagged ‘Perceptions’

Feedback: Entering the Story

Whether you believe the CBS series Undercover Boss is over-produced, brings value, or is cheesy the stories are often compelling. A recent episode features Belfor Restoration; what a message!

Who wants some feedback?

The show clearly illustrates a core leadership practice: listen to the story and you will hear helpful feedback

Some CEO’s are going undercover?Who would be on your short list  for such an experience? 

The CBS series, UNDERCOVER BOSS follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their corner office for an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their companies.  While working alongside their employees, they see the effects that their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering the unsung heroes who make their companies run. 

What if…?

What if hearing someone’s story becomes feedback? And, what if the feedback is received? Can you imagine the impact on employee engagement and business growth if leaders are free to see:

  • How their decisions impact others
  • What hinders their employees
  • What life on the “front line” is really like
  • The people

powerful messagecomes from Jen, water technician for Belfor Restoration. Her day comes to an emotional end with Sheldon Yellen, CEO of the disaster recovery company. Yellen is so moved by his experience and his day working alongside Jen that he blows his cover to make a promise; unfreeze her pay grade raise.

Listen to her words in this 2-minute video.



What is the lesson to remember?

  • It’s the people.  Whether you are the boss, a boss, or a front-line contributor remember – the business of business is people.  In Jen’s words:
  • If not for me and for the other people that give a damn, he wouldn’t be anywhere and he needs to keep it real with the people like me; I’m the one that makes him money. Ultimately I don’t cash in on these jobs; I get paid by the hour, I don’t get anything but what I work for with this job.

She gets it and is willing to play her role in the story.

  • It’s the people.  Whether you are the boss, a boss, or a front line contributor, remember – the business of business is people. In Jen’s words:
  • You know and I could never ever say again I feel invisible, never ever and I don’t’ want to feel invisible; and I don’t.  And I believe in him and I believe he won’t let me feel that way…and that’s nice, it’s real nice.

See me, respect me, appreciate me, and my contribution.

  • It’s the people. Whether you are the boss, a boss, or a frontline contributor remember – the business of business is people. In Jen’s words:
  • I feel like I’m going to wake up any second now, and not have had this happen. Somewhere I’m going to wake up and just be like, “Ah crap.”  But I’d still get up and go to work, so I guess that’s all that matters.”

Her character and commitment are inspiring.

Who do you see?

How many people feel invisible? How do you feel in your work place?

Recently I wrote about this reality in Gratitude, Technology, and People:

The business of business is people.

Technology is nice, people are essential.

Thanks Jen for reminding me of how it feels to be invisible and how good it feels to be recognized, acknowledged for your contribution.

It’s easy to take a shot at those at the top. And yes, it’s easy to become insolated from the front lines.

Here’s the question:

How well do you listen to the stories of people?  What are you doing with the feedback to improve your performance?

Please join me in this conversation, I’d love to hear your thoughts; comments welcome below.

Assumptions, Judgment and Opportunity

Photo by Alex E. Promimos

How do you stop making assumptions about others?

Last week, I was in Cincinnati for the annual Sherpa Coaching Conference as part of my re-certification.  The group was large enough and the schedule full enough that it was impossible to connect with everyone.  I only knew a few people.

After the conference, I grabbed a bite to eat at the airport with a coaching friend from Dallas.  As we finished our meal, another coach entered the restaurant.  The past few days I observed this coach but an assumption kept me from connecting…until that moment.  During that “last chance to connect conversation” I discovered a great person. Her story is amazing.

As I reflected on the incident, I felt the affect of making assumptions. How about you, do ever make assumptions?


How do assumptions get us in trouble? 

Assumptions are made when you think you know something and accept it as true without verifying it.  Assumptions show up when we take something for granted without proof. 

The primary characteristic of an assumption is this lack of verification or proof. 

What is the affect of making an assumption?

  1. Deception – you believe something to be true that is not
  2. Bondage – you lose an opportunity to make a decision based on truth


On the other hand, how does judgment help us make wise decisions? 

Judgment has to do with forming an opinion after consideration, observation, or the pursuit of truth.  This leadership ability to form a sound opinion and make sound decisions is significantly different than making assumptions.

We know that judgment can refer to a decision handed down by a court of law or a judge.  In this case, a decision is reached after considerable examination of the facts. 

What is the affect of exercising judgment?

  1. Discernment – you form a sound opinion and make better decisions
  2. Freedom – you are able to act and live intentionally, less reactive

What does it take to exercise judgment over making assumptions?

You must create space.  By that I mean you must make time to pursue the truth of The Story.  Making assumptions is a limiting behavior driven by first impressions, jumping to conclusions, and a closed thought process.  Exercising judgment is a success oriented behavior driven by self-awareness, reflection, and open mindedness. 

What is the one thing that will help you manage the assumption trap?

Ask questions.  My coaching mantra is this:  “Ask more, Tell less, Teach when you can.”  Ask open-ended questions; challenge your assumption by asking:

  • Why do I believe this?
  • How do I know this to be true?
  • What am I basing my conclusion on?
  • How are my filters impacting my ability to see this person? Situation?

The business of life is people.  A lot of people problems and lost opportunities are tied to this limiting behavior of making assumptions. 

Slow it down.  Check your thinking.  Ask questions.  

The reward is worth the effort. 

If it had not been for my “second chance” I would have lost the opportunity to connect with another person.  By the way, my peer gave me feedback about my conference presentation that was both affirming and encouraging. 

To think, I almost lost that gift because of a limiting behavior: making an assumption.

What assumptions do you make about others?  What is that costing you?


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Listening: Foundation of Leadership Success

How well do you listen?

It was a rather amazing appointment.  I’ve been working on some immigration matters for the past 3½ years on behalf of my son-in-law.  Yes, that is a long time to persist in the pursuit of legal entry to America. Yes, our system has problems.  And yes, I’ll limit my comments and return to the story. Thanks.

In our continued effort to find direction and guidance we called on one of our Senator’s last week.  As a result we also scheduled an appointment with an immigration “expert attorney” in the OKC area. 

As we sat in the lobby the walls were plastered with certificates.  As we entered his corner office there were even more.  

Within a few minutes of trying to relate our story, he asked my daughter what she knew about him and how she found him.  Once he realized…

  …we had not researched him on the internet or saw his Yellow Page ads

  …that we did not know he co-authored “the book” on immigration law (which he proceeded to show us), and

  …that we had worked with other “no name” attorneys before finding him he stopped the interview to ask. . .

          “What is wrong with my marketing?” 

          “Why are you just now coming to see me?”

It was a moment. 

An amazing moment not because we finally found him but because he did not see or hear us – the people sitting on the other side of his desk! 

Before our appointment was over, this professional —

  • jumped to multiple conclusions
  • leveled unfounded accusations regarding our integrity and motives, and
  • successfully pushed one emotionally and physically weary human being to the brink, resulting in more emotional pain and tears.

His assumptive approach succeeded in what most assumptions do best: “Make an ass-u-me!”

My perception of him as a “leader”, hence my reality today remains . . .

  • Life is all about him, he is not really in the business to “help people”
  • Serving others is not his leadership or business model
  • His glaring lack of professional courtesy is his true marketing issues not his Yellow Page ad; do you think we’ll be recommending him?  Do you think that aide in the Senator’s office will hear about our experience?
  • He does not listen well
  • His failure to listen caused him to make assumptions; which were totally inaccurate and caused him to judge our motives and integrity without knowing the truth
  • He lacks core leadership skills (formerly known as “soft skills”), don’t send anyone to him 

As a leader, what’s in this story for you? 

To help your reflection effort here are my perceptions re-worked into questions:

  1. What is the message you are sending to others by your behavior…is it all about you?
  2. How is the concept of servant leadership demonstrated in your world?
  3. How would you rate yourself on professional courtesy?   On a scale of 1-6, if below a 4 what do you want to change?
  4. How well do you listen?  How do you know that?  What would others say?  When will you ask them?
  5. When do you make assumptions?  What does that cost you?
  6. What core leadership skills (people skills) require development?  What’s your plan for growth?

Perhaps he is an expert and has been financially successful with his niche market.

     …perhaps he was having a bad day

     …perhaps he was running behind and distracted at 10:30 a.m. on that particular Monday morning

Perhaps, his inability to see the people and listen are getting in his way and holding him back from his full potential.  And sad to say…perhaps he is the only person that doesn’t know it.  

Who will tell him? 

Who will tell you?


*Some information was changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

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