by Richard, Character, Leadership

Chikin, Spice, and Authenticity

No Comments 17 December 2012

Earlier this year, Chick-fil-A, the Atlanta-based quick service restaurant chain, became the unwitting object of a firestorm following President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy’s direct answer to an interviewer’s question about his views on marriage. The interview was in the context of the ongoing national debate on same-sex marriage, spurred perhaps by contributions reportedly made by the Cathy family foundation, Winshape (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WinShape_Foundation) to some not especially LGBT-friendly entities.

The refreshing part of Mr. Cathy’s answer, regardless of content, or anyone’s position on the matter, is that it was direct, and without obfuscation. And, in view of Mr. Cathy’s straight-laced image, it was about as surprising as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pick for the 2012 Super Bowl.

Nevertheless, outrage ensued with some fresh meat, ‘er chikin (as the company’s bovine advertising mascots spell the word) thrown into the fire. While many accepted Cathy’s right to express views different from their own, others were not as tolerant. The mayors of Boston and Chicago even threatened to block the company’s development in their respective cities (apparently they had all the jobs they needed), until the ACLU, hardly a bastion of conservatism, reminded Their Honors that they really couldn’t do that. It seems that issuing government sanctions in response to protected speech kind of tramples on that First Amendment thing, and so they dialed back the rhetoric.

Since neither Mr. Cathy’s views on marriage, nor ours, are especially relevant to our work, or the reason you subscribe to this newsletter, we’ll spare you the discussion. But we’d like to highlight a few lessons that we can all walk away with.

1. Authenticity Means Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Leaders who aren’t comfortable in their own skin tend to become petty tyrants. Frankly, we see too many leaders fall short of their peak because they spend precious time every day twisting in the wind, seeking polished, popular positions on the subject du jour – positions that don’t necessarily jibe with their inner beliefs, if they even have inner beliefs. The end result is messy, because none of us is a good enough actor to pull it off for very long. If nothing else, our people have become good consumers of content, and they recognize bad acting when they see it. For further reinforcement on this topic, just rewind some of the video from the recently completed U.S. election.

2. Say it Loud, Say it Clear

Our work with high performance organizations and leaders of choice (they can usually be found in the same place) suggests in the strongest possible terms that these organizations, Chick-fil-A being but one example, have a crystal clear sense of who they are, where they’re going, and what they stand for. They aren’t bashful about it, and it doesn’t change overnight with their socks. They know that not everyone is going to like their products and services, or the way they do business. And they certainly understand that not everyone’s going to be happy, productive, or successful working there. Accordingly, they take considerable pains to recruit and retain people who are able to work comfortably within their value system.

This is not, repeat, not, a wink and a nod to employment discrimination. The leaders in these organizations know that discrimination on the basis of irrelevant factors is bad form, bad for business, and generally indefensible in legal terms, so they don’t do it.

If your company is a tough place to work, say so, and be very explicit in explaining why and how. The same advice applies to you as a leader. That said, if you can’t consistently find, retain, and engage enough truly great people to work for you, you might want to make some changes.

What Chick-fil-A does seems to work, and work well. The company is growing like a weed and has always enjoyed a stellar workplace reputation, and, not coincidentally, is perennially rated among the very best in customer service for Quick Service Restaurant chains. (Witness recent articles in Fast Company and The Los Angeles Times.) Their annual employee turnover rate has consistently been a fraction of the industry’s triple-digit figure. There’s no indication that this year’s controversy has made the slightest dent in that outstanding record.

As we point out in Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk (and in all of our books), a company’s decisions about how it treats its customers, and its employees matters, and matters a lot. Not so much for social or moral reasons, but because it drives business outcomes. The market is a wonderful thing. Our latest group of “Contented Cow” companies have 70 billion reasons (as in dollars) each year to remain committed to their people-oriented employment cultures.

 

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill Catlette are the authors of the popular “Contented Cows” leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. Their newest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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by Bill, Character, Leadership

A Little Less Hollywood and a Little More Mayberry

No Comments 10 July 2012

We note with sadness the passing this week of Andy Griffith, who though he earned his living in Hollywood, never seemed to forget where he was from.

A visit to a Hollywood film lot (we highly recommend the Warner Brothers tour) comes with the admonition from tour guides, with evidence aplenty, that nothing there is at it seems. In many respects, that has become the norm throughout much of society, such that in so many respects, form, image, illusion, branding, the avatar, the lipstick on the pig takes precedence over reality.

Earlier this week I engaged in a brief (140 character) online joust with a recruiter buddy who was bemoaning what he considered undue focus on authenticity, and not enough on hard accomplishments. I replied to the effect that, whereas I, too have a healthy respect for results, I’d also like to see fewer people (and organizations) trying to appear authentic, and more actually being that way.

It called to mind a very fine presentation by Chick-fil-A’s Andy Lorenzen (Director, Talent Strategy & Systems) at the recent SHRM global conference in Atlanta. Mr. Lorenzen was refreshingly candid in the Q&A portion of his presentation, especially when responding to three different audience members who, each in their own way, asked if the devout Christian beliefs of the company’s founder and owners didn’t in some way (legal, ethical, or operational) cause workplace problems.

Each time, he patiently but persistently noted that Chick-fil-A is a privately held company whose owners do hold certain beliefs dear, and have a prescribed set of values for their business, but that they do not foist their religious beliefs on others. That said, he added, with equal emphasis, that people who are uncomfortable working in an environment where those beliefs shape the operating culture and norms would likely find that Chick-fil-A is not for them. Then, with a smile on his face but dead certainty in his voice, he added that one thing they do foist on people is that if you work for Chick-fil-A, you better be down with “sellin chicken” or chikin, as their billboards playfully put it.

Our work with high performance organizations and leaders of choice (they can usually be found in the same place) suggests in the strongest possible terms that these organizations, Chick-fil-A being but one example, have a very strong sense of who they are, where they’re going, and what they stand for. They aren’t bashful about it, and it doesn’t change overnight with their socks.

With help from John Wiley & Sons Publishing, we released last week the latest in our Contented Cows series of leadership books. Written largely at the request of those who wanted an update of our 1st work, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk offers fresh examples, a new and even more compelling business case, and some largely unheralded exemplars that we can all take lessons from. Indeed, one of those lessons is that our authenticity, at both personal and organizational levels represents the greatest key to bridging the trust gap which is perhaps the biggest problem that every business leader faces today.

We hope that you will purchase a copy from your favorite bookseller (it’s available in all popular formats), read it, and then be among the first to review it online at BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Richard, Character, Leadership

Leadership and the Queen

No Comments 05 June 2012

In the spirit of full disclosure, mine is a British-American family. My wife was born and raised in Scotland, and I’m the only member of our household who does not hold a British passport. We like the Royals around here and agree with most Britons that the monarchy is a positive force and should remain in place.

I know that many Americans, indeed many others around the world, don’t “get” the monarchy, and therefore don’t value the institution. That’s fine, but if the Brits are happy with the arrangement, then who are the rest of us to bring it down?

Over the years, the Windsors have weathered rough patches, many of their own making. Today, as the U.K. and the rest of the Commonwealth celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – 60 years on the throne – 80% of Brits polled express approval for the monarchy, Queen Elizabeth, and the royal family. No other head of state, including our own, even comes close.

The reason it works? The Queen herself. Here are a few Elizabethan traits that I think we as leaders could all do well to emulate:

  • The Queen knows when to keep her mouth shut. She’s well aware that she was endowed with one royal mouth and two royal ears, and she uses them in proper proportion. She’s met every week, since 1952, with one of her 12 Prime Ministers, and by all accounts, she’s the one who does most of the listening, and less of the talking.
  • She represents constancy and consistency of purpose. In an age when too many leaders change their “mission” more often than they do their socks, the Queen’s purpose has always been, as she said on her 21st birthday,  “service”.
  • While anchored in constancy of purpose, she’s not been afraid to change with the times. The monarchy has morphed. Rules and policies have been reviewed, and when deemed archaic and no longer useful, they’ve been abolished. Charles married Camilla. The Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned. And in October of 2011, a centuries-old rule was scrapped, giving royal males and females equal succession rights to the throne. When was the last time you asked what rules and policies of yours need to be scrutinized and possibly scrapped? And the monarchy hasn’t let social media pass it by. You can like the monarchy on Facebook, and follow it on Twitter.
  • The Queen is 100% devoted to service. At age 86, she still attends more than 400 functions a year and supports more than 600 charities. She’s one of the hardest working CEO’s I know of, and she shows no signs of slowing down.
  • She knows how to correct her mistakes. The Queen’s not perfect, and she knows it. When she famously misjudged the people’s reaction to the death of Princess Diana, she appeared on worldwide TV in an honest appeal for understanding. People will forgive a host of flaws in their leaders, especially when those leaders take time to explain and understand the needs of those they lead. The institution recovered, indeed rebounded from the misstep, if today’s popularity is any indication. The Queen never forgot the lessons associated with Diana’s death, and it shows in how the monarchy conducts itself today. The next time you get it wrong (if you’re like me, you won’t have to wait long), take quick action to get it right again.
  • She has a sense of humor. All those who know her talk about it. The Archbishop of Canterbury was quoted as saying, ” “I found in the Queen someone who can be friendly…informal… extremely funny in private – and not everybody appreciates just how funny she can be…I think we’ve been enormously fortunate in this country to have, as our head of state, a person who has a real personality.”
  • Finally, she knows what her job is – and what it is not. She said in her Christmas broadcast of 1957, “I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else – I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” The best leaders know what to do – lead – and not to interfere where they can’t bring value.

What Queen Elizabeth II has done, and done so well, in her 60 years on the throne, is to hold a diverse group of people together, through good times and bad, people with a wide range of political views and perspectives, to imbue them with a sense of identity, of imperfect unity, that somehow works, with varying degrees of success. That, I think, is what a leader does.

She must be doing something right. On Sunday, more than a million people braved a cold London rain to stand outside for hours to honor Elizabeth and her 60 years of service. What other CEO’s might hope for a similar tribute?

Long live the Queen.

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill Catlette are the authors of the popular “Contented Cows” leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. Their newest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, is due to be released by John Wiley & Sons on July 3, but is available for pre-sale now. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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by Richard, Character, Leadership

The Art of the Gentle Dressing Down

No Comments 18 October 2011

This weekend I was honored to have sung at the funeral of a man in our church. I didn’t know him well, but I knew him, and what I always saw was an upbeat, friendly, kind, and warm guy, whose interest always seemed projected outward – toward others – not inward. I was surprised to learn he was in his 80′s. I would have thought much younger.

What was not a surprise was a story the minister told about Lloyd, to the large congregation assembled to celebrate and honor his long life. During Lloyd’s last hospital stay, the minister was visiting him one morning when a middle-aged male nurse popped his head into the room and asked, almost without waiting to hear a reply, if Lloyd needed anything.

“Yes,” said Lloyd, “I do. I need to talk to you. Do you have a minute?” Not really, but he’d make time. Lloyd, whose cancer was draining the life from him, told the nurse, through a genuine smile, that he had chosen to return to this particular hospital for his continued treatments primarily because of the outstanding nursing care he had received on earlier visits. This nurse, however, Lloyd was sorry to say, had not lived up to his high expectations. “You’re inattentive and brusque, and too rough. I’m an old man, in lots of pain, and you sometimes handle me like I’m a football player in here for knee surgery.

“Often, you’ve forgotten to do things you said you’d do. And I have to tell you that last night, you were talking loudly, all night, at your station right outside my room, and it kept me awake.”

Lloyd, an electrical engineer with an MBA, had served in senior leadership roles in the Bell System. He told the nurse that he stood out from his co-workers, and not in a good way, and not because he was one of the few male nurses there. But because he simply didn’t do his job as well as the others did theirs.

“I’ll be going into hospice care in a few days, and the way you do your job won’t really make much more difference to me. But it will to all the others who come in here after me. And it’ll make a difference to the people you work with.

“You don’t need to change a lot,” Lloyd told the guy, “but I think if you’d slow down a little, listen a little better, be a little gentler in your approach, and follow through better on your commitments to your patients, you’d go from being a good nurse, to a great one. Will you try to do that? Not just for me, but for you?”

The minister made the point that although Lloyd had been clear in giving the nurse some unsolicited performance feedback, he had done it in such a kind and caring way, that at least the nurse had stopped, and listened.

The leadership consultant in me observed from the story that Lloyd had followed, to the letter, the fundamentals of effective feedback. He’d been clear. He didn’t muddle the message with weasel words. He didn’t dance around the issue. Nor did he bash the guy over the head with it. Perhaps he was bringing his engineering education to bear on the conversation. He knew that too much pressure would cause the system to break, but that too little would be fruitless.

Lloyd provided clear and reasonable expectations, specific performance observations, and definable suggestions for specific behavior change. And he wrapped it all in a genuine sense of caring for the object of his feedback. That is the definition of a good performance coach.

After the service, the minister and I were talking. I told him I enjoyed hearing the story of the nurse. A sheepish look came over his face as he said, “Thanks. But I would never have told that story if I’d known the nurse was going to be in the congregation. I didn’t see him until later in the eulogy, and besides, he looks different in a suit and tie.”

And sometimes we, as leaders, fail to give needed feedback because we’re afraid they won’t like us anymore.

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk, and Contented Cows MOOve Faster, and the brand new book Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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by Richard, Character, Leadership

The Hearing-Doing Gap

No Comments 06 January 2011

Leaders must listen. But does being open to others’ input obligate us to implement their views?

First, the usual disclaimer whenever I blog something that could be seen as political: I’m not, repeat, not, making a political point here. The example I’ll use simply brings up an interesting leadership lesson. If I do what I intend, you won’t know any more about my political persuasion than you did before you started reading this.

Yesterday, Ohio Republican John Boehner (whom I don’t like) accepted the gavel as Speaker of the US House of Representatives from Democrat Nancy Pelosi (whom I don’t like). (How am I doing so far?) According to USA Today, Boehner promised, in his speech, that the minority party would be heard. Then, the first piece of business to come to the floor after the speech was fraught with disagreement between the R’s and D’s, and the R’s didn’t give in.

As a result, both Congressional Democrats and outside observers were quick to dismiss Boehner’s promise that Democrats’ views and input would be heard. This dismissal may ultimately be justified. Or not. But, at the moment, it’s premature.

OK – let’s move off the House floor, and into the place you work. As leaders, we have to listen. Really listen. And we have to be genuinely and honestly open to the input, views, ideas, opinions, plans, suggestions, and pleadings of those we lead. None of us is smart enough to lead well without doing this. But our openness and encouragement of others’ input does not create an obligation to always use it.

HOWEVER, comma… If we consistently ignore the stuff they give us, bang goes our credibility. And that has consequences. The kind we don’t want.

If you ask for your followers’ input, and never use it, they’ll learn not to bother offering it. Then you’re flying solo. While that’s not likely to happen in Congress, it’s the common response at work.

Just because the Republicans have verbally invited Democrats’ input, and then ignored it in this instance, tells us nothing about the sincerity of the invitation. A consistent pattern over the next few months, one way or the other, will.

Same goes for us at work.

Richard Hadden (twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows) is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milkand Contented Cows MOOve Faster, and the brand new book Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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by Richard, Character

Schumer drops the b-bomb

No Comments 17 December 2009

schumerI know the US Senate has a lot of important issues to deal with, like the lousy economy, high unemployment, two wars, and health care, so please forgive me if I winge for a moment about something less important, but nonetheless significant: the conduct of one Senator who knows how to behave well, but chose not to.

According to Politico.com, New York Senator Charles Schumer continued talking on his cell phone after USAirways flight attendants had instructed passengers to turn off all electronic devices.

After issuing the general instruction to all passengers (to include, presumably, US Senators), the flight attendant approached Schumer and told him the entire plane was waiting on him to shut down his phone. The senator argued with her, and was then quoted as saying, “It’s Harry Reid calling. I guess health care will have to wait until we land.”

Puh-leaaaaze…

As a final show of class, professionalism, and maturity, the senator then called the flight attendant a word also used to identify female dogs. In fairness, as one blogger has pointed out, she insulted him first, by calling him a senator. Still…

The incident was reported by a fellow passenger, an aide for the opposing party, but has not been denied by Schumer. In fact, Schumer had a spokesperson apologize on his behalf. I’d love to have someone I could pay to take the heat for me when I screw up. As often as that happens, I probably couldn’t afford one , but thankfully for Schumer, we provide him with a staff budget capacious enough to allow for such a person.

There’s a lot wrong with this incident, if it’s true. For starters…

  • Senators are supposed to be public servants. Not public tyrants.
  • Every time I fly, I’m warned that “failure to comply with crewmember instructions is a federal offense.” Consider the senator a federal offender. You and I would have been escorted off the plane to visit with two uniformed men with heads disproportionate to their bodies.
  • If Schumer’s public language is indicative of the way he regards women, I’m not impressed.

People are looking for authenticity in their leaders. Authentic leaders:

  • realize others are watching, and behave as admirable examples, even when no one is watching
  • realize rules apply to them just as they do to others
  • are as kind and considerate to the person who pushes a broom (or an airline drinks cart) as they are to their fellow country club members
  • know that they put their pants and skirts on the same way everyone else does
  • apologize sincerely, and in person when they make a mistake

Shame on you, Senator Schumer, surrogate apology notwithstanding.

Richard Hadden (twitter at http://twitter.com/rehadden) is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the new book Contented Cows MOOve Faster, as well as the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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by Richard, Character

The lost art of the Thank You note

No Comments 10 December 2009

Thank you noteIn today’s mail, one item clearly stood out from all the bills and advertisements I dragged in from the daily haul. An envelope, addressed by hand, to my wife, with the return address from a couple we know from our church.

As a hobby and side business, my wife makes handmade decorative soap, with Celtic designs, reflecting her native Scotland. This year, our church choir, to which we both belong, presented a Christmas concert with a Celtic theme. As a small token of our esteem for our fellow choir members, and because the Celtic connection seemed particularly appropriate, my wife placed a piece of soap, packaged and labeled, inside the music slot of each of the 87 members before this weekend’s performance.

Nearly every member came up and personally, and most graciously thanked her for this small gift. One woman, Barbara, sat down, and took the time to write a note, address it, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail. Barbara is a perfect southern lady, of mature years, and reeking of class. Not snootiness – real class. She has an email account and isn’t afraid to use it. But she knows when not to.

The next time someone at work does something you particularly appreciate, sit down, pull out a note card, and write a note to say thanks. Your small and simple gesture will stand out and be remembered long after your email would have landed in the delete folder.

Thank you.

Richard Hadden (twitter at http://twitter.com/rehadden) is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the new book Contented Cows MOOve Faster, as well as the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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by Bill, Character, Management

Should Michael Vick be Allowed to Return to the NFL?

No Comments 20 May 2009

Earlier today, former NFL star quarterback, Michael Vick was released from federal prison in Leavenworth after serving most of a 23 month sentence for his principal involvement in a dog fighting ring. The burning question now is, should NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell allow Vick to return to the game?

Were I counseling Mr. Goodell, I would urge him to send the following letter to Mr. Vick, today.

Dear Michael,

I am happy to learn that, earlier today, you completed a key step in your recovery from a tragic mistake in your life. All of us in the NFL are rooting for your continued progress on this journey.

Should you make an appeal at this time to have your suspension from the NFL lifted, thus permitting a return to active player status, I want you to know where I currently stand on the issue.

Michael, you are without question a talented player, and I believe at heart, a decent person. That said, I am not presently inclined to respond favorably to such a request, should it to be made. While it is true that you have “served your time” and have every right to earn a living, there are two key principles at work here:

1. You didn’t just break the law and commit a crime against the state. Your actions were also obviously and significantly detrimental to the League, the game, the hundreds of fellow players, coaches, and support staff who today make their living playing professional football, and all those who will take our places in the future. Your actions demonstrated careless disregard for the tenet that it is a privilege and not a right for us to play this game for a living. Further, in addition to the crime for which you were punished, you broke faith with your team owner, Mr. Blank, by misleading him, as you did me (I’m being charitable here), about your involvement in this activity.

2. While my current inclination may seem harsh, especially in light of lenience shown to other players who have run afoul of the law (and perhaps it is), I would hasten to point out that Michael Vick was not just another football player. During your time in the League, you were considered (and paid) as a “franchise player”, someone who in many respects was a key face of the franchise, and indeed the game. In other words, the bar is significantly higher in this case, a standard that, as a top level professional athlete, you are quite familiar with.

Michael, serving your time is but one step on the road to redemption. As I see it, full redemption in your case involves “making it right” for all those who have been injured as a result of your thoughtless actions. Though I cannot at this point anticipate a particular condition or set of conditions that would permit your return to the game, I’m willing to leave that in your hands should you choose to attempt a return to player status. In that event, should you (not your attorneys or agents) wish at some time to make a thoughtful proposal that fully remediates this situation, I promise you that the League will at least entertain it. Bear in mind, however, that the aforementioned bar will continue to be set high, for all of us.

Good luck and Godspeed.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

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by Richard, Character, Leadership

Miss USA Contestant Tells the Truth

No Comments 22 April 2009

miss_usaThis post is not about same-sex marriage. It’s about authenticity. As in telling the truth. Which is exactly what Miss California, Carrie Prejean, did when asked by Miss USA judge and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton (there’s a celebrity blogger?!?) if she thought all 50 states should enact legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, as has the state of Vermont.

Her honest answer (that she doesn’t) almost certainly cost her the job of Miss USA. Mr. Hilton asked her an opinion question, but apparently wanted not to hear her opinion (as he asked), but instead his. Then, according to reports, Ms. Prejean’s own backers, the directors of the Miss California USA pageant, snubbed her after the show, and were infuriated that she gave “the wrong answer” (which is, by the way, pretty much word-for-word how Barack Obama answered the same question from a reporter in August of 2008).

When asked about Ms. Prejean’s answer, fellow judge and former contestant Claudia Jordan said on The Today Show, “In pageants, just as in politics, it’s probably best to just give a neutral answer, where you’re not committed to one side or the other. If you want to win.”

In other words, don’t worry about the truth. Tell people what they want to hear, if you want to get ahead.

The most effective leaders, in business, the military, government, sports, and every other endeavor, know that Claudia Jordan is wrong. Way wrong. Good leaders tell the truth. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s not popular.

This lesson may be even more relevant when applied to job interview situations. The workforce is full of people who answered an interview question with what they thought the interviewer wanted to hear, rather than with the truth. Which is why so many people find themselves working for organizations in which they simply don’t fit.

Miss California knew the politically savvy answer, but simply chose not to give it. Instead she went with what, for her, was the authentic answer. Not everyone entirely agrees with her opinion, including this non-celebrity blogger. But I’m glad she had the moxie, and authenticity, to speak her truth.

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the new book Contented Cows MOOve Faster, as well as the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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by Richard, Character, Favorite Folks

Earl Kitchings – Lost Treasure

No Comments 10 April 2009

Earl KitchingsEarl Kitchings died this week at the age of 82. He was a legend here in Jacksonville, as a pioneering football coach – the head coach of Florida’s first African-American state championship team – that was back in 1958, when we had white teams and black teams.

During those years, Coach Kitchings helped groom the late Hall of Fame player Bob Hayes, at Matthew Gilbert High School.  Hayes, once known as the “World’s Fastest Man”, went on to win an Olympic Gold Medal, and to play for the Dallas Cowboys. He’s the only man to win both Olympic Gold and a Super Bowl ring.

But more than any of that, Earl Kitchings was simply a jewel of a man. It will never be possible to measure the positive influence he had on the young people of his community, for more than 50 years. Though he and his wife had only one child of their own, he was a father figure to hundreds for at least two generations.

And positive influence seems to run in the family. I had the great pleasure of working with Coach Kitchings’s wife, Elaine, back in the 70′s. I was in high school, and worked part-time at the local branch of the public library. Doesn’t sound like a great job, and in fact, the work wasn’t all that great. But some of the people were.  Elaine Kitchings was one of my favorites, and we managed to stay in touch for many years. She’s one of the classiest ladies I’ve ever known.

On this Easter weekend, one of the things I’m thankful for is people like Earl and Elaine Kitchings.

Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the new book Contented Cows MOOve Faster, as well as the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

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Leadership Honesty: Richard Hadden featured in article in Investor's Business Daily Click here