Wisdom Reigns

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In 2013, I was bestowed with the honour of receiving the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal. I must admit at that time I did not consider myself to be a Monarchist. Since then I have become to better appreciate how fortunate the world is to have the benefit of someone whose power is in her wisdom, and how she exercises it. 

The quote from Her Majesty’s Christmas message (“Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding.”) was one of the most popular posts I have done since I started my blog, which suggests that many share this appreciation. 

Her comments this week redoubled my sense of appreciation. “As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of views, coming together to seek out the common ground and never losing sight of the bigger picture. To me these are timeless, and I commend them to everyone.” Long may she reign.

A great example of leadership for the New Year

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Chief Justice Roberts, in endorsing recommendations to shield workers in the federal court system from harassment and abuse, is a refreshing example of leadership. 

In his year-end report on the state of the federal judiciary, the Chief Justice endorsed recommendations for clearer standards, easier reporting and better training.

While the court system has a better culture than other government agencies, Roberts took the position which in essence he said, ‘better than others is not good enough’. 

Only one word for this – Bizarre

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This Wall Street Journal article demonstrates just how far we are willing to go to make emotions matter, but this is hardly the place to begin.  

Rather than spending millions teaching empathy to machines, technology companies would be better served if they made emotional intelligence a core competency in their organizations. As I pointed out in this article in The Hill, it took a walkout by thousands of employees worldwide to discover how their employees felt and why they felt the way they did. 

Time for CBS to come clean

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Here is the latest on CBS, coming on the heels of an investigation by CBS lawyers on 60 Minutes, who blamed what happened there on 60 Minutesworking outside the CBS culture. This finding is bizarre, on the basis that the CBS culture is as toxic, if not more so than 60 Minutes. The report was basically a legalese rationale. Ms. Dushku told investigators she was written off the hit series ‘Bull’ after enduring sexual harassment on the set. Lawyers scolded CBS for its ‘antiquated’ views. 

The network has undertaken a companywide re-evaluation in the wake of the #MeToo movement that has forced three powerful men out of their jobs because of workplace conduct. 

The harassment at both CBS and 60 Minutesare now secondary to how they have addressed it, which has been to deny, defect and deceive. Neither organization has any business investigating and reporting on wrongdoings until they come totally clean. Their repeated statements on their wanting a safe work environment rings hollow.

Similarly, The Catholic Church has no moral authority as I discussed in this blog, again not just for the horrendous sex abuse, but for their coverups - quite frankly to avoid financial exposures. 

Why board reform is required

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This New York Times story outlines why board reform is desperately needed. The story’s header ‘Disaster for CBS Shareholders’ misses the even more critical impact, which is the failure of boards to address predators and other ethical breaches. This a disaster for employees. In most of the scandals that have hit the press, boards have claimed they were not aware, which were in most cases admissions of negligence or complicity. 

Understanding civility – character begets civility

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Sometimes civility manages conflict and preserves our freedom; sometimes it does precisely the opposite. We may be obligated to sort out which is which.

This New York Times article should be studied by everyone. We need to understand that civility is not just about being “nice”. I have long held the view that civility is an outcome. When people bemoan the decline of civility, they are really bemoaning the decline of character.  

Over the last couple of years, I have been writing a series of articles for MoneyInc called ‘A Boomer’s Guide for Millennials - The A B C’s of Leadership’ where I have identified 26 characteristics, one for each letter of the alphabet. Next month the final segment ‘Z is for Zenist’ will be published.  

Next year the series will be published as a book called ‘Portraits of Character - The A B C’s of Character Building’, where I build on the characteristics by profiling individuals, current and throughout history, who exemplify each characteristic. Everyone who I have identified are people of character, who while having to take some pretty hard positions, were unfailingly civil.

 

 

A Boomer’s Guide For Millennials. The ABC’s Of Leadership: 'Y' is for Youthful

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“A youth is susceptible to the influence of idealist notions. As a person ages, they notice a gap between their expectations and reality, and they grow more pessimistic about the world and their ability to live up to the lofty notions that inspired a younger self.” - Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Over my career, I have coached, mentored, advised, counselled, and corrected literally hundreds of people as they progressed in their careers. In almost every case, I have had to challenge them to stay or become younger than their biological age to avoid, as Oldster observed, growing “more pessimistic about the world and their ability to live up to the lofty notions that inspired a younger self.” Other reasons to stay young in mind and body are pragmatic ones - your chances of a longer, better, more productive lives are higher, and your ability to protect your livelihood increases.

Even in an age where we hear slogans like ‘50 is the new 30’, ‘ 60 is the new 40’ and so on, ageism has become one of the biggest issues facing workers today. A Forum survey found 61 percent of older workers between 55 and 64 reported being impacted by bullying. Over the last couple of decades organizations have targeted older long-term employees when they restructure, using the restructuring as a rationale for culling what leadership deems as “dead wood”. While much of this is pure discrimination and stereotyping, some of the decisions to replace older workers with younger ones or have younger ones leap frog an older one on the progression ladder is warranted. This is in large part because some people allow themselves to become redundant as they grow old attitudinally, in many cases before their time.

Scientists are finding that subjective age, which is based on the way you feel inside, may be essential to understand why some people flourish as they age while others fade.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who turned 85 this year and is now the oldest justice on the court, is a wonderful example of someone who has and continues to flourish. I had the pleasure of meeting her four years ago. We got into a discussion on ageism and subjective age, and when I asked her how old she felt she was inside, immediately she responded, “Oh, I still feel like I was when I was in my first year of law school”. Ginsberg went on to state, “never have a defeatist attitude’ and “I’m going to surmount this”, which she feels are the reasons that she feels her subjective age remains young.

Ginsberg’s attitude, reinforced by a healthy lifestyle including a legionary workout routine, a rigorous work ethic, the same ideals that she was influenced by in her youth, high emotional intelligence, her insatiable curiosity and the relationships she has developed with others is captured in ‘RBG’ and ‘On the Basis of Sex’, the two movies that have justifiably turned her into a pop icon.

So, how can you feel younger than your biological age, and why does it matter? This year I turned 70 years young, and I peg my subjective age at 40. I can attribute this to five tips I was given early in my career. 

1. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE - both on life and on growing older. Accentuate the positives and avoid belaboring the negatives. Maintain the idealistic notions of your youth and don’t fall into the trap of growing pessimistic because of those gaps between your expectations and realities. Science is showing a positive attitude about aging leads to better health. Deirdre Robertson, a lead researcher at Trinity College Dublin, reports, “The way we think about and write about ageing may have direct effects on health. Everyone will grow older and if negative attitudes are carried throughout life, they can have a determined, measurable negative impact on physical, mental and cognitive health.” 

2. A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE - eating well, moderate drinking and maintaining an exercise routine. We are seeing more and more scientific evidence that people are able to stay physically, mentally and attitudinally younger than their biological age. For example, a study called ‘Cardiovascular and Skeletal Muscle Health with Lifelong Exercise’ posted in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that the muscles of older men and women who have exercised for decades are undistinguishable in many ways from those of healthy a 25-year old. Further they found that “the aged active group had the cardiovascular health of people 30 years younger than themselves. Other studies have found that older athletes have healthier muscles, brains, immune systems and hearts than people in the same age who are sedentary.

3. STAY CURRENT AND RELEVANT - many people as they progress in an organization reach a point where they think they know all that they need to know and become rigid in the positions they take. When people get to this point, they become isolated from others. This is one of the reasons for the loneliness epidemic that exists today. You are never too old to learn, and there is evidence that when you are mentally stimulated, your brain stays young. Augment the crossword puzzles with developing your critical thinking skills. One method I use for this is mastering the art of writing. Writing forces one to think through, research and better articulate your verbal communications. Seek input from others rather than pontificate or dictate.  In making decisions consider all of the implications. Stay curious. Develop your emotional intelligence.  Develop a sense of humor.

4. STAY CONNECTED - build strong personal relationships with people of all ages. So often I hear from my contemporaries that they don’t understand millennials. I usually find this is because they don’t engage with them in a meaningful way. As you develop your emotional intelligence skills by asking how people feel and why they feel the way they do, the commonalities you have are revealed. Staying connected is becoming part of a non-technological social network. Joining associations and community organizations will broaden your horizons. Stay connected and close to your family, friends and associates. 

5. ADOPT A PUPPY - by nature puppies are high energy and high need. They force you to focus on their needs, not yours - feeding, walking and attention. The benefits for you are enormous and relate to the other four tips by shifting from a negative to a positive attitude, walking (which is one of the best exercises), current and relevant because in these walks you will meet others (particularly other dog people who from my perspective are also people people, which in turn helps you stay connected.


A key benefit for me in following these few tips is my ability to deal with stress. Stress is a major reason why people regress mentally and physically. 

Stay young! 

 

How the art of writing can improve our civil discourse

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I have long held the position that the reason for the erosion of values in almost every aspect of our society is our inability to discuss, disagree, debate, defend and defy. As part of the Yale/Faas Foundation initiative called ‘Emotion Revolution in the Workplace’, we are advancing the ‘5 D’s of Engagement’. 

What I am finding is that emotionally intelligent leaders promote and encourage the application of the 5 D’s, and by doing so they enjoy relationships with their subordinates that is based on mutual trust and respect.  

I am also finding that unemotionally intelligent leaders practice what we call the ‘5 D’s of Exclusion’ (Deflect/Deceive/Discredit/ Distort/Deny) which we can assert is the reason for the erosion of trust and respect which is dominant in every sector of our society. 

This opinion piece from the New York Times is a call for people to reduce their dependence on the technologies that have become a substitute for dialogue through mastering the art of writing. 

Why ‘toxic’ is the Oxford word of the year

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The word, which is increasingly applied to nonphysical things, beat out others including “gaslighting”, “incel” and “techlash.”

Based on my extensive research, the reason is because most people work for a toxic boss in a toxic workplace. In my book, ‘From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Keep Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire’,I discuss how toxic workplace cultures impede success for organizations and deprive people from living fulfilling lives, and what you need to do to change your life from toxic to thriving.

The First Lady is no bystander

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In this Washington Post article, we see how a White House aide picked a fight with the First Lady and lost. What is being downplayed by the media is the open secret that the White House aide had a reputation as a toxic bully. It appears that since the First Lady’s trip to Africa she has tried to have the aide held accountable, to no avail. If this is accurate her public position on this was appropriate and is exactly what I encourage bystanders to become which is - witnesses, defenders, resisters and activists. To suggest this was a personal fight is misleading. The First Lady came to the defense of those whom the aide bullied.