Love = Respect

There’s a famous quote from the grizzled football coach Vince Lombardi.

“I don’t necessarily have to like my players and associates. But as their leader, I must love them. Love is loyalty. Love is teamwork. Love respects the dignity of the individual. This is the strength of any organization.”

Love is important.

Vince talks about it from an organizational standpoint, and from a people standpoint.

It’s about respect.

And when you show respect to people, you demonstrate that you care about them

And in return, they will show you loyalty.

Not because they have to, but because they want to.

Because you know what?

They will love you in return.

First posted on LinkedIn 2/14/2021

Experience + Engagement = Virtual Success

Do you miss hearing live speakers?

Well, of course you do.

There’s the crowd.

There’s the adrenaline.

There’s the energy.

I miss it, too.

But virtual presentations can achieve some of the same effect, including energy.

A successful virtual presentation must have two things.

The first thing is to create an experience… something memorable.

Make your presentation actionable.

Give people things to think about when they go back to the workplace.

You also have to capture interest, which we call engagement.

You speak in shorter segments… five, six, seven minutes.

Create exercises, poll questions…

Things like that to get the audience and keep them engaged.

Experience and Engagement.

What a Friend Taught Me about Listening

The other day a colleague of mine, commenting on a short video I did on the topic of trust, noted that I had not mentioned listening. And so he made a list of things necessary to improve listening and communicating.

My friend, who asked that I not use his name, has shared these thoughts with the young leaders he mentored and coached. And he has graciously allowed me to share them here.

Keep your word.  If you say you are going to do something, do it. 

Listen well.  Genuinely listen. Ask questions that allow others to know you’re listening. 

Don’t speak over people. Don’t finish their sentences for them. Good eye contact is helpful, and important. 

Maintain confidentiality, when appropriate and for sure when asked. 

When needed, roll up your sleeves and join the task to help. 

Ask your people what they think and why. Do it often. 

When you disagree, argue the facts, not the personality.

Do not criticize your direct reports in public. Do it in private. 

Support members of your team. Have their backs, especially when they are in a tight spot. Support does not confer agreement. 

Likely you have heard many of these before, but it’s always good to be reminded of how we can become more attentive listeners. “There is perhaps no greater gift you can give to another person,” goes the saying, “than by paying attention and let them know they are being heard.”

Listening is an investment in another person. It is a sign of respect. Doing it regularly and with kindness demonstrates that you value the contributions of others.

First posted on LinkedIn 2/07/2021

Martin Lindstrom: Minister of Common Sense

You don’t just read Martin Lindstrom, you laugh with Martin Lindstrom.

Here’s his new book The Ministry of Common Sense: How to Eliminate Bureaucratic Red Tape, Bad Excuses and Corporate B.S.

Let me give you a little taste.

Have you ever gotten locked out of your computer while you’re at work?

Well, the good news is, according to IT, is that support is available on the website.

Or how about this one?

Big box retailers pride themselves on stocking common merchandise.

Well, why is it that one big box retailer puts snow removal equipment in Florida?

A lack of common sense, I would think.

“The Ministry of Common Sense” is about those foibles that keep good companies from being even better.

It’s a good look at human nature.

And no surprise, because Martin is a student of human nature.

He’s studied more than 3,000 people in customer interactions to find out their behavior.

But Martin, above all, has a deep love for all of us as people.

And this book “The Ministry of Common Sense” talks about how we can get better if we think more clearly.

It’s a good read. It’s enjoyable.

It will tell you a lot about yourself… and show you a way you can get even better.


Here’s a link to my most recent interview with Martin on my LinkedIn Live show.

GRACE under pressure: John Baldoni with Martin Lindstrom

Golf in a Time of Pandemic

The other day I may have played my last day of golf for the season. Here in Michigan, snow is in the forecast for the coming days. Soon our course will be hard frozen and covered in snow. Another season over.

I usually would not write about my playing golf. Even on my best days, my game is nothing to cheer about. But these are not the best of days. These are the worst of days. The pandemic has upended all of our lives. And so, golf has offered my playing partners and me moments of solace.

Most of my golf buddies are retired. They have missed vacations as well as visits with children and worse with grandchildren. We live now in isolation, apart from loved ones as well as friends.

Getting out on the course is a refuge. We mask up on the №1 tee box, but once we’re out on the course, we keep socially distant, and so masks are not necessary. For the next few hours, we can revert to the banter that sustains us, laughing and joking at one another’s mishits as well as praising the good shots or long putts that one or more of us make.

This year for me has been different. I did not play in our league, something I truly missed. I did not feel comfortable in overly congregant settings, even on a golf course. Hardly a sacrifice, but it was a loss of something, the community of men at play.

Uncertain tomorrows

Writing about golf in a time of plague and uncertainty seems almost supercilious. Millions and millions more have truly lost part of themselves. So many have suffered, and so many have died. Golf is inconsequential.

Yet golf for me, and for my pals, has been a refuge. A return to presumed normalcy that we know is no longer there. Our course is located across the street from what’s known as the Big House. Weekly during the season, it boasts the largest crowds to watch a football game. Not this year. Games have been played, miserably, but played nonetheless in front of empty seats. Eerie yet fitting.

My friend, author Chester Elton, regularly posts pictures of things he’s grateful for and asks us to chime in. Golf with friends has been a particular joy this year. The camaraderie and good cheer (some liquid even) have meant much to me. It has been an affirmation that despite the world turned upside down, somethings have remained “green side up.” And I am grateful.

Maybe I will go out a time or two in December. (We in Michigan play when it is 40 degrees.) Yet emotionally, the time spent on the course for 2020 seems over. And it may be the only thing I miss about this wretched year.

First posted on 12/6/2020

VIDEO: You Ain’t As Smart As You Think You Are

Overconfidence strikes all of us at one time or another.

Multiple studies of managers show that a majority of managers overestimate their own ability to perform. And, as a result, they might be capable to getting themselves and their teams into trouble.

Psychologists call this the “overconfidence effect.”

According to the author Rolf Dobeliwriting in Psychology Today, the overconfidence effect “measures the difference between what people really know and what they think they know.”

Dobeli, who wrote “The Art of Thinking Clearly,” advises, “Be aware that you tend to overestimate your knowledge.”

For managers, it means to be on guard. You can do so in three ways.

  1. Question assumptions. Look for what is propping up your arguments. Is it valid? Has it been tested by others?
  2. Look for skeptics. Surround yourself with people who will disagree with you. Make it safe for them to push back. Challenge them to examine your assumptions.
  3. Ask for feedback. Invite people to let you know how you are doing. Encourage them to be specific. Good managers create feedback loops where there is continuous discussion about what happened, is happening and will happen next.

Overconfidence may be part of management today but savvy managers are those to keep it in check.

First posted on 4/19/2019

VIDEO: Make Your Attitude One of Gratitude

Gratitude is the grease that makes working with others easier; it dampens the sparks that occur when co-workers rub each other the wrong way.

Gratitude comes in two parts: external and internal.

Let’s take external because I think it is the easier of the two to master. Why? Because it is action-oriented.

Show direct and frank appreciation. Make it known how much you value an individual’s contributions. Be as specific as possible. Delineate what the individual has done to receive a thank you and tell him or her how much their work is appreciated. Simple words certainly, but they go a long way. All of us cherish moments of authentic recognition.

The second part of gratitude may be trickier to master because it deals with our inner selves.

Gratitude is the recognition that you have something to offer the world and the world has something to offer you. Gratitude is the capacity to care.

From that recognition comes the thanks you need to be grateful — for who you are and what you have.

First posted on on 3/15/2019

VIDEO: Give Me a “T” for Teamwork

Dysfunction is prevalent across many organizations and so management responds with an increase in training.

Yet holding team-building activities when management is in flux, standards are declining and behaviors are eroding is akin to selling life insurance policies as the Titanic is sinking — meaningless.

What makes a team is defined by common purpose, and if there is no common purpose, then teamwork is superfluous. When lack of focus is endemic, responsibility falls at the feet of those in charge.

Building teams is a perennial effort in organizations — so much so that when we use the term “team building,” many employees roll their eyes. They also do a mental checklist of all the team building exercises they have experienced — “radioactive contamination” exercises,  trust falls, whitewater-rafting trips and backyard ropes courses.

Dysfunction stems from lack of trust. The way to build trust is through commitment that emerges from listening to employees to determine the problems.

Members of dysfunctional teams live lives of daily misery because their ability to make improvements is disregarded by their bosses, who know only how to make things worse.

Savvy managers challenge individuals to solve problems and empower them to put those remedies into action.

First posted on 3/29/2019

VIDEO: How Good Managers Teach

Good bosses are good teachers.

They help typically shape an individual’s career by sharing their expertise as well as sharing the wisdom necessary to master not simply the job, but a career.

The lessons revolve around what’s happening in the business as well as what’s necessary to learn in order to become more effective.

So, how do great managers do this?

Invite questions. Implicit in teaching one-on-one is the notion of questioning. Curiosity is essential to learning so good managers make it known they welcome questions. Questioning reveals two important things: 1. What students already know; 2. What they need to know to become better.

Reveal insights. Back-and-forth questioning is good, but it is good for the manager to share what he or she knows. This sharing can be in the form of an explicit lesson, or it can be in the form of a story.

Question assumptions. Teaching employees to be skeptical of easy answers is good practice. When employees are expected to push back on what they have learned, they demonstrate that they have learned.

Their challenge then is to prove their new learning. Sometimes it will affirm what already is known. Other times it will open new avenues of discussion and learning.

There is something else good teachers do: instill confidence in those they teach.

“One of the things the great teachers do is prepare you for their absence,” writes Diana Geotsch. “They give you confidence, they give you your life, and, by doing so, they make themselves obsolete.”

First posted on 3/1/2019

VIDEO: Leading from the Middle

There is a lot of literature about how to get to the top of your profession. By comparison, there is scant information about how to be a good middle manager.

The term “middle management” is an amorphous term. It can be someone who manages two people as well as an SVP who manages a global workforce. “Middle” does not adequately describe the range of responsibility such a manager has.

Managing from the middle is a balancing act. You want to do your best by helping the team and the boss succeed.

Good middle managers do these things well:

  • Understand the big picture — where the organization is headed
  • Root out problems — find way around or through obstacles that derail lesser teams
  • Work with colleagues — live by the mantra: from me to we
  • Speak the truth

Good middle managers are not yes people. They gain credence through their competence, diligence and conscience.

First Posted on 2/8/2019Fi