Archives September 2016

Your Workers Don’t Give A Rat’s Patootie About Your Precious Mission Statement – 4 Questions To Give People Something To Believe In

Boards and executive teams everywhere spend an unbelievable amount of time and energy on developing their company’s mission statement.

To be fair, this is important work as it helps to focus the organization but, in my experience, high-level mission statements do nothing to motivate frontline staff.

In fact, the Gallup organization found that only 20% of U.S. workers feel proud of or engaged by their company’s mission statement.

Most companies promote their mission by putting up posters, give out mouse pads and coffee cups. If that doesn’t work, they push managers to explain their precious mission differently so that it will finally sink in. They believe that once those darn employees finally get it life will be all sunshine & roses and profits will climb.

Sorry to tell you that this is not going to happen.

Why? Leaders think big & are future-focused, and workers are focused on very intimate, personal and local issues.

read about reaching leadership nirvana

Focus locally

When I ask workers what matters to them, they say what matters most is their ability to support their families, have good-paying jobs and hope to have a better life for their kids — and do what they can for their community.


When you have invested so much energy into that lofty mission statement, the idea of a local mission may not make sense. Because a corporate mission is supposed to give employees something big and important to believe in and work for: but employees connect to what they do every day; their team and the community in which they work.

I could list similar examples from around the world. But when I was a leader of a large NGO we had two mission statements, the official one – World Peace – and the local one – Every person who needs help will get it – and that was the one that inspires passion.

You must understand that the mission that matters most to your workers is the local one.

You’ll find it’s almost always about keeping the doors open and the community healthy.

My recommendation is to ask your workers what’s important to them:

  • What does it take to operate in their location?
  • What does the plant mean to the local community?
  • What would be lost if it went away?
  • Ask your workers to imagine the company closing; what would they do to keep the doors open and deliver on their mission?

Talk about the questions and the answers on the shop or office floor, and invite every worker to respond. Listen carefully to what they say, and craft their local missions.

read more about how to talk to your people

Then start doing those things — now before they don’t give a rat’s patootie about anything.

3 Things You Need To Do So Your First 90-days Aren’t Your Last Days

So you have been hired as a CEO or other senior role.

The first thing you need to understand is that your job is to achieve the organization’s strategic goals.

As the person holding that position, you will need to demonstrate superior management skills and leadership expertise to connect all facets of the organization to the mission through open, honest and transparent communication.

First 90:

I am not a huge fan of the 90-day plan, but you better have a sense of what you are going today when you show up for that first day of work.

Here is the focus of the first 90-days of your tenure will be to establish a solid base from which you can achieve your strategic goals by gathering information and setting a strong leadership tone:

1. Before Day One: First step is to get over yourself and commit to the organization you have chosen to lead. You should devote time to becoming familiar with the organization and its situation through informal meetings with the Board Chair and Executive Committee.

2. People: Attend to the fundamental “people processes” and leadership basics of getting to know your new team and identify items requiring immediate attention or any on-going legal issues. After confirming that these have been properly addressed, turn your attention to team evaluation, its performance and to team building.

3. Your Boss’ Priorities: Your most important relationship is with the Boss. Review recent business and reports, the status of the strategic objectives and most importantly establish parameters of your authority.

Read about Partnering with your boss


  1. Listening: Talk with (and listen to) everyone, starting at the top and working down through the organizational hierarchy. These conversations will build relationships with key individuals, staff, and stakeholders and will serve to build credibility.

Read about using silence to listen better

2. Assessing the Staff team: This includes evaluating both the team members and organizational structure relative to meeting our goals and would involve spending time with team members to understand their history, focus, roles and what is in their mind.

Do not feel compelled to resolve structural problems within 90 days, but assess the issues. Your new staff team may be fragile and would naturally be worried about a new Boss. Be on the lookout for team members who may require careful attention or those who are, perhaps, no longer fully committed and consider performance management plans as needed.


  • Easy Wins: By addressing the easy, noncontroversial activities, which can be fixed quickly and successfully will make an important statement about trust and leadership.
  • Get Out: Interacting with colleagues and stakeholders will increase your credibility, but not to the neglect of the business at hand.
  • Communicate: Change is difficult. So, for even the smallest changes consider a change management plan that would clearly and consistently communicate the change to those impacted, including those who may have only minor interest.
  • Set the Stage: People will be watching your activities carefully, and perceptions are important. To those watching, time spent on an activity will signal its importance and will set an example of work ethic.


Develop the Long Plan

As you do what I suggest, share your findings and thoughts with the Board as a sounding board and to receive advice and guidance.

As you close in on the 90-day mark, develop a strategy and begin to craft your plan to lead and achieve our strategic goals and results.

The Shocking Truth – You Can’t Standup To Authority {Get a Ethical Decision Making Checklist}

Stanley Milgram carried out one of the most famous psychology studies in 1963.[1] He focused on seeing how far people would go in obeying an instruction if it involved harming another person. 


40 Volunteers were introduced to an instructor in a lab coat, played by an actor, and another actor who was strapped into an electric chair.

The volunteers were told they were testing the person in the chair by having him to recall words from a list. Each time the person in the chair made a mistake the volunteer was instructed to administer an electric shock, increasing the level of shock each time a mistake was made from a slight shock to a life-threatening shock.

Two-thirds of volunteers administered increasing levels of electricity to a deadly 450 volts and everyone continued to at least 300 volts

Milgram concluded that ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being. 

Read more about moral courage

The experiment lives on in common culture as a damnation of our ability to inflict pain and acquiesce to authority.

The rest of the story:

Few are aware that the experiment had a variation where the volunteers witnessed other participants (also actors) refused to obey.

In the presence of others who disobeyed the authority figure the levels of obedience to inflict harm of the volunteers fell to 10%.

The point?

We all like to think we are strong enough to stop bad things happening when we see it.

But are we?

When was the last time you saw something wrong happening and didn’t say anything; didn’t refuse; didn’t set an example for others to find the courage to say no.

We all can be complicit, but leaders have the responsibility to set an example.

Be a leader, even when it is hard.