Tag archive for "Richard Hadden"

Choose a Great Boss. Be a Great Boss

Guest Post, Leadership

Choose a Great Boss. Be a Great Boss

No Comments 19 March 2015

She has a relaxed management styleGuest post by Ivan Serrano.

The best technique for getting ahead at work is choosing a great boss. Not a great job, a great boss. A great boss is one who listens to employees, who is willing to let employees make mistakes and learn from them, who understands the value of loyalty, who is willing to go to bat for employees and who makes sure employees have everything they need to succeed.

But here’s the problem: great bosses are in high demand, but unfortunately in short supply. So jobs with great bosses don’t open up that often.

What can employees who don’t have great bosses do to get ahead? Here are a few thoughts that will help you get ahead even if you have a lousy boss. They will also make you more valuable to that great boss who may be in your future.

There’s one more big bonus to practicing these tips. They will also make you a great boss when you have the chance to step up and lead others. If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s great bosses.

Focus on results

There is plenty of good advice about how to get a job and what to do after you’ve landed one, but results are what matter most in the workplace. That said, results are defined differently for every job and every company. At one job, the most important result may be contributing to growing revenues. At another job, the most important result may be creating loyal or happy customers. At another job, the result may be fitting into the team dynamic in a way that facilitates the group effort. It’s important to know which results matter most and then focus on them.

Once the results that matter most for your job have been identified, it is important to identify the metrics for success in achieving those results and tracking your performance yourself. Make sure you are improving.

Ask questions

If no one is telling you which results matter most and how success is measured, you need to be asking questions. Don’t make assumptions and don’t wait for someone to volunteer the information you need. Get out in front and stay in front with salient questions.

This doesn’t mean ask questions so you will appear to be engaged. Only ask the questions you need answers for.

Show me a solution

No whining and don’t play the blame game. There is no future in pointing out a problem without also sharing a solution.

You probably aren’t the first one to notice the problems you see. The real problem is that no one is stepping up to solve the problem. Instead of just pointing out a problem and waiting for someone else to do something about it, bring a solution to the table.

Admit your mistakes

But then move on. There aren’t really any benefits from mistakes except learning what not to do in a single situation. If you learn your lesson, you’ve already gotten everything you’re going to get from making a mistake. Move on.

Things change

Be ready for change, even before your first day on the job. Chances are, if you stay at a job long enough, you will be asked to perform more than one task that is not on your job description.

Don’t let your title limit you. Ask the questions to understand what results are expected and what the metrics for success are. Do your best not to take on new tasks until both you and the person making the request have a mutual understanding of results and metrics for success. This will ensure you get credit for your work.

Often, taking on new responsibilities means you will not be able to perform a task you have been responsible for. Don’t just assume that task will be taken care of. Make sure you know who will be responsible for your old tasks–it may be you.

Challenge yourself

You’re going to be more engaged with your job if you’re continually doing something new. This translates into personal growth, but it also translates into increasing your value as an employee.

The devil is in the details

Make sure tasks get completed. Too often in the daily hustle from one crisis to the next, many tasks don’t get completed in one sitting. This is a reality of the modern workplace. Juggling more than one project is a skill most employees need to have.

Even though your boss asks you to stop doing something to work on something else, it does not mean your boss doesn’t want you to complete the task you were asked to stop. Always go back and finish up those incomplete tasks.

Have fun

Try to have some fun. Humor and laughter in the workplace can make the day go by quicker and creates an atmosphere that everyone enjoys being in.

Following these tips will help you get ahead in your current job. The real value of this particular set of tips is that they are getting you ready for leadership and establishing the capability you will need to as a leader–leading by example. Keep your eye on the goal of becoming a great boss one day. The workplace needs you.

Ivan Serrano is a business and finance journalist living in the Bay Area of California. Connect with him on Google+.


by Richard, Exemplars, Favorite Folks, Leadership

Truett Cathy: A Life Well-Lived

No Comments 08 September 2014

truett-cathy A mighty tree fell in the forest of business leadership today, with the death of 93-year-old Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. Truett was a pioneer, an innovator, and a true gentleman of character and courage. He improved the lives of millions, way beyond “sellin’ chicken”, and leaves a legacy that makes him a real standout in the annals of American business.

I’ll quickly dispense with the elephant in the blogpost and acknowledge that not everyone likes Chick-fil-A, whether it be their food or their values. But I’ll allow to speak for itself the fact that their supporters overwhelmingly eclipse their detractors. Just drive by any Chick-fil-A restaurant any day of the week (except, of course, Sunday, on which they’re closed), and you’ll see what I mean.

It was my privilege to meet Truett on a couple of occasions, while we were conducting leadership training for Chick-fil-A, and he was gracious enough to let me interview him in 1997, while Bill and I were writing our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk.


Here are 3 things I know about Truett Cathy:


1 – He was authentic. Truett’s faith was his life, and he uttered no apologies for it. He went from millionaire to billionaire years ago, but continued to teach a boys’ Sunday School class at his church until his health failed. You could count on his word. Many, many people did, and have built very successful businesses and fulfilling careers.

2 – He was a giver. In addition to his personal philanthropy, Truett’s company has given more than $68 million to more than 700 educational and charitable organizations in the last three years alone. Since its inception, the company’s Team Member Scholarship Program has provided more than $30 million to help more than 30,000 employees attend more than 500 different colleges and universities. Through its WinShape Foundation, it has invested millions in programs directed toward helping young people. And the company regularly donates food to people who are hungry, and provides organized relief for victims of natural disasters.

3 – He was a forgiver. Here’s a story we relate in our 2007 book, Contented Cows MOOVE Faster: It was told to me by Truett’s son, Dan, Chick-fil-A’s Chief Operating Officer, when Dan invited me to travel across the country with him on a whirlwind grand opening tour to the Midwest and California.

Dan and his father were walking around the original Dwarf House restaurant (the forerunner of Chick-fil-A) one evening, inspecting the premises. It seems that a gaze upward revealed a fresh collection of empty beer cans on the roof of the Dwarf House. As alcohol never has been on the menu of the Dwarf House, or Chick-fil-A, it was determined that, unfortunately, the spent vessels most likely came from an employee engaging in off-label activities on the job. As much as Truett didn’t like to think of any of his beloved employees drinking at work, he suspected a middle-aged fellow named James.

When Truett confronted him, he gently extracted a genuine confession. What happened next owes to James’s greatly improved judgment in having told the truth about the incident and to Truett’s exceptional maturity. Name any employer. Drinking beer on the clock and then littering the premises with the evidence would pretty much be grounds for dismissal without intervention from even the most liberal of unfair labor treatment folks.

Instead, Truett forgave James. James didn’t get a lecture about how wrong it was to drink on the job. Truett figured James was an adult and therefore knew what he did was wrong. He didn’t get fired. He didn’t get written up. He barely got a reprimand. He got forgiven. Which is not to say his deed got overlooked. By forgiving rather than firing James, Truett took the bond of trust between the two men to a completely new level, something that was not lost on James over the balance of his long career with the company.

Many prayers, including ours, are being said today for the Cathy family, and in thanks for a life well-lived. Godspeed, Truett.


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.

by Richard, Exemplars, Motivation

CSX: One of the Best Places to Work in I.T.

No Comments 18 July 2013

csx hqGrowing up in Jacksonville, Florida, virtually every one of my friends’ fathers worked for either “the phone comp’ny” (as we pronounced it), or “the railroad”. That “railroad” was what is today known as CSX, whose riverfront headquarters building occupies a prominent place in the Jacksonville skyline, and which occupies perhaps an even more prominent place in the life and economy of the city. And now, the company’s Information Technology function occupies the number 19 slot on Computerworld magazine’s List of 100 Best Places to Work in I.T. (See the full article here).

If you’re a regular reader of ours, you know our view: inclusion on an annual ranking of workplace quality (like Computerworld’s, Fortune’s, or any other respected publication’s) is a good first indication, but not the only determinant of how great an employer really is to work for. Companies that make the list ostensibly because they let people take naps, or bring their pet ferrets to work are less likely to get the Contented Cows seal of approval than those known for things like great leadership, innovative reward systems, or an emphasis on professional development.

It’s this quality – an emphasis on professional development – that caught our attention at CSX.

Training is a top priority at CSX, and that commitment is seen in full bloom by its technology professionals. Of the company’s 30,000 U.S.-based employees, nearly 500 are in I.T. Each of those workers received an average of 5 days of training in 2012, and the company budgeted $1,125 per I.T. employee for training that year.

It’s not all classroom training, and it certainly isn’t limited to technology training. These I.T. pro’s spend lots of time learning what those who work in the depths of the railroad’s operations do to get the cars down the tracks. Many techies spend time in the freight yards, and on simulators and real trains, to give them irreplaceable experiences vital to integrating the technology with the workings of the freight carrier.

And CSX maximizes the return on its investment in professional development by providing advancement opportunities for lots of talented CSXers. In 2012, 12% of I.T. employees were promoted to more advanced positions within the technology division of the company.

While the labor market for many industries and professions is still a little anemic, not so in I.T. The demand for talent generally outweighs the supply of people with the skills needed to power the work. And yet, in a field where skilled talent can exercise a lot more options than those in many other fields can, employee turnover in I.T. at CSX is low. Very low: 3%.

We think there’s a lot to be learned from the example of CSX: Invest in personal and professional development. Let people see how the whole business works, and how their contribution relates to the enterprise. Then provide advancement opportunities for those you’ve developed – a great way to maximize the return on your investment in people.



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.

Rebooting Leadership is Launched!

by Bill, by Richard, Leadership

Rebooting Leadership is Launched!

1 Comment 03 February 2011

Since the middle of 2007, corporate and other organizational training budgets have been in the deep freeze, along with new hire requisitions and your last three merit increases. During that period, four classes of grads have found their way into the workplace. Many of them have since moved into their first management positions as their predecessors and even a few baby boomers have ascended a rung, or moved along. Most of these moves have occurred with virtually no formal preparation or training to enhance the likelihood of success. Moreover, during this same period, the workspace has become a faster paced, less trusting, less forgiving, meaner place.

Learning about little things, like how to select/deselect teammates, how to coach for better performance, how to acquire and use influence, how to manage time/priorities, and how to recover from a failed project or other career spill has largely been declared DIY territory.

Against this backdrop, and armed with the belief that a recession is a terrible thing to waste, in 2009 we embarked on a new book project. The “we” in this case took on a new dimension by virtue of two important new partnerships.

First, on the writing front, we teamed up with Reston, Virginia based management consultant and coach, Meredith Kimbell. Meredith added fresh perspective, tons of great examples from her consulting practice, a pithy writing style, and a woman’s touch. And, she’s just plain fun to work with.

Second, in order to accentuate B2B sales, we signed on with the king of leadership book publishing and B2B distribution, David Cottrell of Cornerstone Leadership Institute. A strong reader’s advocate, David pushes authors, his staff, and himself to do their very best work, and do it in less than 118 pages. There is no doubt that he pushed and cajoled us into doing a better book. And, true to his word, David consistently does exactly what he says he will do. How refreshing is that?

For those who speak, train, coach, and consult for a living, as we do, doing a new book is akin to printing new business cards – expensive business cards. It is also a lever that forces us to think long and hard about new realities, and prepare fresh advice and content for client presentations; content that is worthy of the time it takes to read or listen to. Forgive the lack of modesty, but we’re confident that we’ve succeeded.

Rebooting Leadership, our newest work, was written expressly for the above-referenced 1st and 2nd level managers, who daily attend to the myriad thankless tasks associated with getting the wash out, and those who coach and lead them. It’s a high protein, fad-free guidebook that is chock full of prescriptive advice for surviving and succeeding in the new world in which we find ourselves. Think of it as a semester’s worth of leadership education for much less than the price of a textbook or seminar.

Rebooting Leadership is an easy, 2 hour read, equipped with immediately actionable insight and prescriptions. Available both in print and digital versions for the Kindle reader, it is our best stuff to date, and we want you to have it.

The book even has its own website, at RebootingLeadership.com.

The print edition is available for $15.95 from Cornerstone Leadership Institute (volume discounts apply).

The Kindle version is available for $9.99 from Amazon.

For those who like to try before they buy, a free sample chapter is available by clicking this link.

OR – if you want to have one of the authors come to your organization and teach your leaders what it means to reboot their leadership, click here.

Whichever path you choose, we’re confident that you will find Rebooting Leadership a valuable addition to your management library.

by Bill, Think About It...

Remember America’s Fallen Heroes

No Comments 21 May 2009

Today’s post is courtesy of Brett Stevens and Gina O’Leary, President and General Manager respectively of the SearchLogix Group, a Georgia-based executive search firm.

“Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored and neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.”

Read more at:

Memorial Day History
Help Restore the Traditional Day of Observance for Memorial Day
What to Do on Memorial Day

P.S. The SearchLogix Group is a Veteran Owned Business.

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

by Bill, Leadership, Motivation, Think About It...

Susan Boyle Redux

No Comments 25 April 2009

Tom Bergeron, host of Dancing With the Stars has an excellent piece, Does Susan Boyle Know What’s Next, in today’s NY Times. The article posits that, despite a huge adrenalin rush brought on by her incredible performance on “Britain’s Got Talent”, Ms. Boyle will all too soon be dealing with a man-made headwind as we return to business and thinking as usual.

Mr. Bergeron then connects Ms. Boyle’s situation to our world at large, “After all, “Yes We Can!” communal euphoria is tough to sustain and even harder to market. We’re already grumbling about our president’s choice of puppy and asking whether his wife’s arms are too toned for national magazines. It’s always something, and it’s usually nonsense. But it sells newspapers. At least it used to. Now it sells Web sites and cable television.

“The real problem is that too often we don’t have the courage to sustain wonder. Susan Boyle walked onto that stage and faced down a sea of smug. We need that kind of courage nowadays, and not just on reality shows. We need the courage to believe that stirring voices can be found in unlikely places.” By all means, read the full article.

The piece reminds me of a story I occasionally use in keynote speeches about a Lakota chief who sat by the fire with his grandson one night and shared a story with the young boy about a fierce battle between two wolves. One wolf stood for evil, and it represented fear, envy, cynicism, and greed. The other wolf represented good… hope, courage, perseverance, and honesty.

Eager to learn the result of the ferocious struggle, the young boy interrupted his grandfather and asked, “which wolf wins?” The old man paused for a moment and then said simply, “the one you feed… the one you feed.”

Not unlike Ms. Boyle, the rest of us still have demons to deal with, in the form of the fear and cynicism which, for the last several years have played too big a part in our daily operating system. We, too must decide which wolf we’re going to feed.

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

by Bill, Leadership

Stimulate This!

No Comments 17 February 2009

Well, now that the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been signed into law, the heavy lifting begins, amidst the hoopla and controversy over who has the most “shovel ready” projects worthy of public financing.

In that vein there was an excellent piece (Smart Roads, Smart Bridges. Smart Grids.) by Michael Totty in today’s WSJ. In well-written, compelling fashion, Mr. Totty advocates  using currently available technology and good engineering methods to leave us with “highways that alert motorists of a traffic jam before it forms; bridges that report when they’re at risk of collapse; or an electric grid that fixes itself when blackouts hit.”  In other words, as long as we’re at it, let’s use some smart data gathering and design methods to yield much better outcomes.

In similar fashion, we have long called attention to the fact that smart, well-run organizations make it a point to regularly (no, constantly) sample the ebb and flow of worker morale using well constructed surveys. They do it not out of some socialistic bent, but because they know that to a great degree, today’s morale drives tomorrow’s customer experience, and next month’s earnings. In other words, it pays to do it. This is not something where they turn the spigot on when times are good and shut it off when things get tough. Rather, they take pains to listen and respond to their workers whether the wind is in their face or at their backs.

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

by Bill, Extra Milers

That Other Boss

No Comments 22 August 2008

The BossFor better than a decade, business partner Richard Hadden and I have written about leadership and employment issues, offering what we hope is helpful advice to those who are known by others as “the boss.”

Last night, my wife and I celebrated her birthday at Nashville’s Sommet Center, enjoying a rocking performance by another guy known as, “The Boss.” Together with his E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen performed all the oldies and goodies for an enthusiastic audience that included Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, Amy Grant, Martina McBride, and Kim Carnes. Totally aware of his surroundings, the Boss nearly brought the house down with an Elvis-inspired version of “Good Rocking Tonight,” followed by a soulful rendition of Johny Cash’s, “I Walk the Line.”

Notwithstanding the fact that Springsteen’s music is about as good as it ever was, I came away dutifully impressed by his and the band’s willingness to  give it up for an appreciative mid-week audience. After starting the customary 45 minutes late (I still don’t get that part), they performed nonstop for three hours, doing at least twenty minutes of encore to a standing ovation. Those in the vicinity of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Milwaukee would do well to go see them before the “Magic Tour” calls it quits.

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, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com


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.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.


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