Dr. Silber's Corner

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Prior to serving as a combat flying officer in the Strategic Air Command, Dr. Silber merited his B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin, and his Masters and Doctorate degrees from The Ohio State University in Organization Psychology. As one of the "Deans of American Management", he has authored three books and over 150 leadership articles. Worldwide, Mark has spoken to 1.7 million persons in company and convention audiences, as a spokesperson for the leadership profession and human behavior in organizations. His humorous and hard-hitting topics make him a much sought after speaker who delivers practical ideas for action. Dr. Silber can be contacted at msilber1@san.rr.com.



Potholes, Pratfalls, Pitfalls

Mark B. Silber, Ph.D.
Organization Psychologist
San Diego, California


A Most Stimulating 2005 Book Reference:

"You're in Charge-Now What?"
Thomas Neff & James Citrin

There are so many anxieties flashing inside a person who has been newly hired as an executive from outside the organization. How do I enter? What kind of impression do I plan to make as a person and as their new leader?
There is a multitude of conflicts facing a newly promoted person who has been appointed from within the organization's ranks. In what ways should I change?

What changes might I consider to meet my accountabilities as their new leader?
Both the internally emerging executive and the externally hired executive face the conflict of how to deal with their power and ego needs....the degree to which to show their strength of now being in charge. Position power, personal power, and knowledge power can compete with the search for an understanding of what is, and what is not, really going on in his/her new "executive sandbox".

Keep your training wheels on! There will be a time, soon enough, to peddle your two-wheel management bike without the necessary support of those ‘learning' training wheels. New learning must first precede intervention! Diagnosis must precede the introduction of change...or... there is management malpractice!

Being seen by your staff as a person who seeks insights, as to what is really going on, is rewarding to both of you. Being constantly observed as a person who cares about them is appreciated. They will not see your non-threatening inquires as the weakness of a child who needs initial training wheels in place.

Do not rush to take them off...they clearly know who is their new boss. The newly appointed leader can sit straight up on the bike's seat without blowing the horn of power, the horn of domination on the handlebars of her/his position.



Often the newly arrived manager-senior executive has a major confusion in his/her self-image. The self-image confusion is confusing an appointment with an anointment! Anointment can rapidly turn into disappointment. Promotions sometimes go to human's head which, in turn, gets another part of ones' "well being" in trouble.When forming relationships start off on the wrong foot, many times those relationships become set in perceptual concrete and become polarized. The rumor mill and beyond the staff boundaries are fed with negative gossip producing the slippery beginning of career decline, the loss of the management effectiveness right off the bat and the telltale signs of career death rattles.





Focused inquiry means the leader hears with caring, what is and what is not going on, within and between organizational units.
* Are there areas of unnecessary hassle in the system?
* Where is performance being harmed by binding bureaucracy?
* Are their painful points where staff personnel are hurting?
* What components of performance flow are flowing well and should not be touched or tinkered with at this time?
* Where is group morale faltering or just doing fine?
* Any void or lack of comments noted about relationships?
* Is there any ‘finger pointing' at other organizational Units?

Active listening is listening with a developed 3rd ear! We were born with one mouth and two ears; leaders need to grow a third ear. The third ear is picking up on issues that are neither being talked about or being brought out in the open. Also, the third ear is carefully noting contradictions of the various subjects that were initially presented in one way and then, later on, presented with a different mindset or in a contradictory manner.


It is now time to start the one-on-one meeting and greeting interview rounds. There will be many opportunities in the first few months to hold group sessions.
The following (5) kick-off questions might be for the individual ‘fireside chats':

1. What would you like me to know about your background and job interests?
2. What kind of leader "works best" for you; expectations of a good boss for you?
3. What would you like me to be doing around here...to shortly address & change?
4. What would be the top items on the agenda for changes in our work climate?
5. What other questions should I be asking of you? What questions had you wished that I had asked you?

Some newly appointed leaders rush during these individual fireside chats, sometimes to the point of losing patience. Stop. Do not expect immediacy of answering. Wait for their thought-through answers.

Exit these private sessions with your appreciation for their thoughtfulness, their willingness to share their feelings and ideas with you. Express reassuring and positive sentiment about them and the Unit.


The following questions might be utilized in (1) a subsequent individual private meeting or (2) tried on for size at a group meeting. What would happen to the productivity of a group session if these questions where given to every invited participant ahead of time for their pre-meeting thinking?

As well as adding organization-specific questions of the leader's choice, these (9) questions can launch some pin pointed and even heated discussions. A few of the following questions are directly from or influenced by a FORTUNE article, January 24, 2005, pp 109-120:

1. As a Unit, where do we have to pick up speed and where do we have to slow down for optimizing performance outputs and the results expected of us? here are we hitting targets and where are we in danger of missing our goals?
2. Where do we need to quickly face fixable flaws in our systems/procedures?
3. What questions to you want to ask me to think about and then get back to you?
4. Can you give me examples of decisions & things we should be doing differently?
5. Any suggestions regarding our working relationships and our culture/climate?
6. As you think about how we can be great, what is on the mind of this group?
7. Where are decision areas where you need more authority & empowerment?
8. How often to you want staff meetings? What meetings can we amputate?
9. What are 5-8 strategic objectives that we should create together? What are 5-8 tactical/operational priorities we need to create and put in place ASAP?

Becoming an instant, action hero/heroine can be a career killer for the newly appointed leader as well as traumatic to the staff Associates = the "P.I.P.s" = Partners in Planning, Partners in Progress, Partners in Performance. A leader's success is partially determined by (1) asking and learning from sincere questions, (2) adapting to the emerging realities...the answers to these questions of the organizational culture and (3) adapting one's leadership and management style to "best fit" the different personality and management needs of each staff person.




- End -

Looking at Living Leadership

Mark B. Silber, Ph.D.
Leader Educator

There were tens-upon-tens of reasons or causes for the multitude of corporate failures of the "dot.coms". Exploring those interacting causal variables would necessitate at least a two volume textbook which would be read by venture capitalists, contemporary MBA students and possibly in the future by students examining past history of organizational demise and death.

Questions: What failings produced the start, and then the snowballing effects, of the implosion of the organization? What cracks and gaps occurred between the VISION and the operational MISSIONS? What were the mega-rocks and blocks that emerged between STRATEGIC plans and TACTICAL follow through at the operational level(s)? What marketplace and external reality changes produced the pitfalls and pratfalls of corporate failure? Was there a lack of focus on the KSFs...the Key Success Factors for profitable growth?

Questions: What lapse of memory produced "oversights & forgetting" about Cost Accounting 101 basics? Was there any super-person ego involved in fantasy geographical and the "magic bullet" product expansions? Yes, CEO's, Marketing senior officers and Presidential egos that enthusiastically believed in the "yellow brick road" of expansion and extensions at all costs (many times ego driven).

"Ego drives lots of people to do strange things.
Control your investments."

John Hendrix

Questions: What and where were there communication blocks and missed-information signals? How did the "M's" shift and change....MEN, MACHINES, MONEY, MATERIALS resources become dissipated and destroyed? Could there have been a lack of inventory controls? In what ways did the competitors...locally, nationally globally...achieve superior advantages and lead time at the costly expense of the dying organization?

Single cause and the singled out event is the useless search for the one answer. The death rattle of the decline of the failing organization had multiple causes. But the signals, signs and sounds of that death rattle were missed or denied by the leaders who were in place at that time. NOTE: "at that time".

Usually the stream of subsequent replacement leaders came and went through the revolving corporate front door in the frantic search for the turnaround savior! Each subsequent executive recruitment and hiring was seen as the search for the leader who would take the organization to the "promised land" of regained wealth and health...the revitalization of peace and calm ...'dot calm'.

Finally, at last, the discovered woman or man leader would ‘connect the dots' so that there would be no more gaps/missing parts between the dream and the execution for performance excellence. He/she would be the dot connector so that peace and prosperity was renewed. Hail the turnaround hero/heroine...the ‘Caesar of Comfort'!
Ah, the one super-human who will hold in his/her insights the true source of wealth wisdom.

What is the message of these questions in the above paragraphs? What are the multiple issues & behaviors confronted by the questions in the above paragraphs?

"Success is a garden with too much sun.
Be careful it does not dry your roots."

Joan Walsh Anglund, poet

Success, like failing, is a tough task master. Leaders can forget the many lessons of the restrictive years of formation and organizational construction. The beginnings of constructive ‘thrashing around' arguments, the pain of finding financing in the national jungle of capital risk investment .The facing of initial failures can be forgotten.
The ‘roots' of the initial organizational dream have lost their ability to support the organizational mid- life of success...they have dried up= roots have turned into dust!

Monies are being spread or even sprinkled around with the now ‘easy ease' of success. Real costs are denied and even hidden. Duplication of people in the same positions produce loss of motivation and the ‘success killer instinct' of winning...fun, frolic, and ‘entitlement' attitudes have become direct and indirect costs.

NOTE: Job joy, job enrichment and employee empowerment are recommended & encouraged for achievement/organizational enhancement; these are key leadership behaviors for the release of employee motivation. Salary/money alone does not empower nor motivate.

The sunshine and the heat of success produce leader and organizational memory loss of those actions that produced success in the first place; root decay of memory loss replaces the zest of the entrepreneur.

"I had a major advantage: I was raised poor."

Kenneth Langone

The tough times of organizational forming and storming are once and awhile referred to by only the first generation of the ‘old timers'. The ‘newbies' assume continued success! The battle scars that produced the success's are no longer seen and seldom reinforced by the "story tellers".

Based upon the author's years of teaching at the University of Phoenix & Chapman University, & the many preceding years of being a Professor at other great Universities... and the 30+ years of consulting to organizations nationally and internationally...a reality-based lesson was learned. There is neither a single nor a simple prescription for leader excellence. Looking into the looking glass of leadership is multi- dimensional, like looking into a pyramidal prism.

Lest the reader becomes tangled in a web of an over-expanded article that might better be served by a textbook on the subject, the following highlighted points will serve to underscore the leadership "pyramidal prism".

1. If you expect your Associates, laterally and downward, to accept your values & vision, do you walk the talk or just talk? "Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand."

2. Leadership wisdom is the inner connection of the knowledge in the head with the heart of caring." Age doesn't always bring wisdom; sometimes it comes alone."

3. Leaders do not substitute ‘presents' for being present. Do not hide in the office; walk, talk and listen to all. The same letters in the word listen are the same letters in the word silent. Be with your staff, not above them.

4. What shadow do you cast? Are you a servant leader who enables, enhances, enriches, and empowers their strengths?

5. Everyone likes to be utilized, but none like to be used or manipulated. How does your staff describe you when they talk about you to others in and outside the group?

6. There are two "E's" in leader...E = ethics of decision choice and the E= effectiveness of implementation. Dr. D. L. Moody says, "Character is what you are in the dark." Effectiveness is doing the right things that really make a real difference in the real world.

7. Calculated RISK, difficult choice points, difficult changes under stress measure a leader during controversy, chaos, and conflicting paths of challenge. Leaders do not hide from decisions; one can not do anything with indecision! Decisions may or may not be final, but few are fatal.

8. Celebrate other person's honest mistakes and surely their successes. Do not hide or hog recognition and reward. Ego hunger is the human condition. Leaders have the opportunity to give and to heal the hurts of humans!

Most assuredly, the highlighting and listing of effective and excellent leadership practices could go on and on. Office and organizational politics ...that subject alone is worthy of a textbook. The management of time is core and a capstone of leader excellence. The leader's personal health, physical-psychological health, would have taken many pages in an article on supervisory success.

The transitions from being "a cop" to becoming "a coach" as a leader would have merited a multitude of ‘ how-to-dos' paragraphs. Control of the executive ego, yet having ego strength, would have been a most interesting comparison and dialogue. Then there are the vital insights about employee empowerment and job enrichment.
How about the leader realities of facing marginal performers, employee discipline, as part of leader performance? Let us not forget the leader thrust of raising people up, not tearing them down is leader competency.

Others in the organization want to please others If only they knew what would really please others! The arenas of leader explicit communication and mutual goal setting could have sharpened the ‘sword of the gladiator' through extensive paragraphs.

The futurisms of the organization depend on picking promotable people...persons of ethic, of influencing strength, of vision for the needed changes. Organizations, like the corpus of individuals, need to adjust, adapt and innovate to succeed in their futures.

The learning organization is the organization of both the present and its own future. Leaders continue to learn.



~~ Beginnings

- End -



Mark B. Silber, Ph.D.
Leader Educator
San Diego, Ca.


There is emotional and career safety, while making managerial decisions, by staying in the comfort zone of past practices...don't rock the boat. Oh? Precedence's of existing policies can be quoted as safety nets. CYA is political survival. CYA = documentation deters disaster. Oh?
There is organizational security in adhering to time-proven procedures...we have always done it this way. Oh? Believing in career security & organizational protectiveness... is a myth, myopic, and mindless manure.

Today's job and career security is like the hole that is left in a bucket of water as one quickly withdraws one hand! Think not about organizational protectiveness in these multi-dimensional times of global competitiveness of discontinuity and uncertainty. Where is there security? Are organizational safety, surety and security realistic goals in today's turbulence? Are leaders in place to provide Staff Associates' job security? The safety of communication surety between leader-follower is a shared accountability of both follower and leader.

The threats of economic warfare, being carried out in today's world climate of product obsolescence, are being felt across all national borders. We are a throw-away society of (1) material things and (2) even the discard of experienced human talent because of their age, technical half life or overseas outsourcing! Where or where is the comfort zone? Yes, organizations are (3) " throw-away" oriented toward managers who do not quickly rise on the curves of performance expectations, political acceptability and maybe those who do not risk thinking outside of their comfort zone.

To the point:
(1) Each person has a zone of comfort, a decision-making-venue, that produces a self-rewarding feeling of satisfaction and motivation. Within these realms or boundaries, the decision- making processes seemingly flow with minimal conflict.
(2) Each person has a zone of comfort, a personalized set of self-accepting behaviors, that produce a self-satisfying state of being O.K. with both self and others. Within these ‘behavioral boundaries', the person feels at ease and self-assured about behaving as he/she does with others.
(3) Outside the individualized comfort zone, decision making now contains tension, stress, anxiety over predicting outcomes. Decision making may become blocked, inhibited, filled with fear.
(4) Outside the personalized comfort zone, actions and behaviors which have not been attempted before or have failed in past situations, now produce avoidance and the questioning the advisability of risk-taking... = that is, push-pull conflict, timidity and hesitancy to try different choices of behaviors. Behavior choices are not worth the exploration.

Leadership is not a position or a title. Leadership is both strategic and tactical planning of action and then putting created momentum into focus & direction! Today's leaders confront their comfort zones. Today's leaders live with the stress and anxiety created by making decisions outside their present zone of comfort. Leaders challenge their own behavioral hesitancy with the discomfort of actions never before tried. Is there danger to be incurred by staying stationary? Is there the risk of loss by continuing to make the same old decisions over and over again? Decision making rigidity is the hobgoblin of leadership failure! As the title of this article states, organizations that grow and prosper do have leaders who challenge their own comfort zones. They challenge their staff Associates to reach beyond their comfort zone with new performance behaviors.


The great comedian Jackie Gleason had many statements that became famous throughout his many years of entertaining his audiences. One of his many comments was, " How sweet it is!" So it is with my statement:

"The awful (full-of-awe) task of leading
is to find the sweet spot in the
other person's needs and
Mark B. Silber, Ph.D.

The leadership task is really full-of-awe in two ways. The first task is to discern how each Staff Associate is different...to differentiate between individuals as to needs, wants, expectations, motivational triggers, talents, developed abilities and personal concerns. Leading is initially the discovery process, not a set of procedures. Individualization is the search for differentiating uniqueness = uncovering the very personal sweet spot of others!

The second full-of-awe leadership task is to try to match leadership style with those needs and expectations. When and if possible, the second component of leading is to try to match job assignments with the unique needs and expectations of each staff Associate. Leaders surely do have their hands full... (full-of-awe)... with all of these discriminations, differentiations, delineations!

So what is Silber's Supervisory Sweet Spot (S.S.S.S.)? It is the point of balance, the fulcrum of different trade-offs of expectations. It is at this "small bandwidth" of desires and comfort levels that Staff Associates take task ownership and task commitment to release their motivational identification-enthusiasm.

Few organizational positions and task assignments are 1000% rewarding. When the leader finally identifies the (1) the job content that is fulfilling, (2) the individualized assignment expectations that are desired and (3) the expectations of how they expect to be supervised (expected style of leadership).....the Silber Supervisory Sweet Spot( S.S.S.S.) has been hit!

The reader has been exposed to Theory X, Theory Y, and Situational Leadership styles. There are Executive Vice Presidents and managers at all organizational levels who need, expect and are comfortable with Theory X bosses! Theory Y, with others, might be a better fit with their expectations of desired leader style. That is, not one leader style fits all! The expression, " Different folks need different strokes" means that different staff Associates need and will accept---or reject- different leadership styles. One of the many secrets of leading is utilizing different individuals differently and influencing them differently!

Leading is influencing. Influencing is the ‘leadership art' of getting others to identify and commit to desired actions. Influence people through their desired style = their sweet spot of being supervised.


If a sailor wants to feel safe and wishes to remain dry, all the skipper has to do is to keep the ship securely tied up in port! There are those administrators who do not wish to get wet, who do not want to ‘rock the boat' or to soil their rigidly pressed uniforms of reputation. These are the bar room sailors who talk-the-talk about how rough the seas have been for them. Then there are the tough-minded skippers who walk-the-talk; they have handled the helm in turbulent organizational seas ( "C's"). These skippers have experienced the up and down wave actions of organizational living... demonstrating excellence as a skipper honed from experience as deckhands and as junior officers. These skippers have untied their ship and left the safety of the harbor. Surely the following seven "C's" are worthy of a separate article on effective leadership.
The author has selected actual behaviors of gold standard leaders to tie in with ‘skippers' who challenge the comfort zones of their staff members. These gold standard executives challenge the comfort zones of their organizations. Let us sail with these skippers.

1st C = Cultivate a collaborative climate of cohesiveness and collegiality. Create a relationship culture of mutual caring in which all members know they are needed and are important. The leader demonstrates confidence by involving others in creating decision making alternatives and options to solving problems.

2nd C = Communicates passion, persistency and purpose for the established goals; there is a winning attitude to attain consequences that are highly valued. Leaders with passion!

3rd C = Celebrations of success, congratulations and credit given to others. The leader controls his/her ego-tripping and personal ego for their glorification and corporate stardom.

4th C = Connections and alliances are built through networking. The leader values contacts and relationship-building external to his/her organizational domain. Silo managing...managing within an isolated organizational silo...is inept 21st Century managing.

5th C = Commitment to clearly focused expectations versus ill-defined activity; creates a zestful culture of neck stretching performance objectives. The Staff knows what is expected, what will be rewarded, what will be constructively critiqued. Creativity and self-starting freedom is stimulated and encouraged. There is a risk to explore.

6th C = Change introduction produces conflict. The effective leader is a change agent and an agent of change! There is a skill in confronting conflict, in confronting procrastinations, in confronting time robbers. Change management is leadership. Leadership is effectively resolving conflicts.

7th C = Challenge and confront outmoded procedures. Challenge the "whys" of outdated organizational systems.

Confront sub-producing employees. Do they (1) lack skill training, (2) coming up short on the zest-for-the-quest attitude for accomplishment, (3) inability to fit in with the informal social mores, or (4) the work pace of the organization?

Confront with strength, confront with respect for the others' dignity, confront for the short and long term welfare of the other person. Confront with "candid, rigorous performance appraisals. Be willing not to give every employee the same kind of bland, mushy, ‘nice job' sign-off and equal rewards, calling it the ‘egalitarian' approach---it's really just weakness...weakness just doesn't cut it."

Business Week, July 23, 2007
Jack and Suzy Welch

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Mark Silber


Julian Zayac

"Leadership is action, not a position!"
- Anonymous

The stock markets, the interdependent global financial fiasco and some fallen ‘pillars of corporation strength' are in states of consternation. We see part, if not a major contributory part to these events, as missed opportunities of "heads-up" leadership. What comes to mind is something about "closing the barn door before the horses run away". It will take leadership action to return the horses to the barn! What is 2.0 leader performance?

2.0 leadership is excellence of agile performance.
2.0 leadership exceeds being great at the art/science of managing.
2.0 leadership is being great in the executives' winning circle.

2.0 leadership is awful = 'full-of-awe' of its 21st Century demands.
2.0 leadership requires champions' zest and focus.
leadership thrives on discontinuous change and chaos without being bound by the hobgoblin need for predictable consistency.

2.0 leadership expects and rewards champion staff members, staff who are "yes, it can be done", not "yes, but not me" employees.
2.0 leader performance is what will separate top caliber organizations from the trailing, also-ran organizations!



No, not haughty arrogance! Not authoritarian elitism! The barrier-producing bombastic bragging, a barrier erected that create strain in adult relationships, has been left behind at High School athletic days. Mature winners know who they are and what they and their staff have accomplished without bravado. These are leaders that do have pride in knowing that their Division or Department has striven to be the best-in-class. Becoming the best-in-class is their pride. Doing what it takes to sustain the motivation of their Associates....to zestfully achieve.... for the Associates to feel the pride of task ownership...cultivates leader pride. Leadership is the prideful joy coming from seeing others learn and grow. That is, seeing others smiling with their own self pride having taken on neck-stretching task goals.

Pride surely comes from deserved recognition bestowed from others. It is accepted with ego control and authentic humility. Not false modesty, but with an honest humility that shares that external recognition extended by others with the men and women that made it happen....that made becoming the best a reality!

There is a fine leadership quote, author unknown to us that addresses sharing the spotlight of pride:

"A leader is like a candle. Leaders are not
diminished, nor lose their own brightness, by
lighting the candle of other persons. Both
candles can burn brightly because of each other."

Leaders share the ‘candle glow' of pride with others!


The "R" in the word profit is salient to innovation =RISK. It is a core component in both planning and operational achieving= RISK. The taking of risk does not imply the mode of ‘Las Vegas high rolling' or gambling with total abandonment, that is, not playing a sum-zero game. We suggest that 21st Century leaders use risk metrics and risk management as pillars of their effectiveness.

Profitability is leadership outcome for not-for-profit organizations as well. Sometimes organizations built and sustained by volunteers fail in their remembrance that the very essence and survival of this type of organization requires profit development. The volunteer organization that is not profitably growing is dieing! Sometimes soft and fluffy organizational Charters create wonderful sounding organization vision and mission statements, but fail to highlight the reality of profit generation based on the taking of risk.
Risk metrics and the constant monitoring of emerging risk is vital as accomplishment moves forward, that is, risk management. If both service and profit are target objectives of leaders, then the prediction and assessment of risk are the launch pads of action (risk metrics). The tracking of progress and the confronting of problem-emerging deviations from the target's path is risk management.


One of the shortest words in the English vocabulary and probably one of the most difficult words to say is...NO. The word ‘no' might often set up a confrontation between persons. At least, the use of this word to position oneself will produce strain and possibly counter-aggression. Leaders muster up the strength to utilize this word when requests are seen as a potential violation of ethics. The "E" in integrity is the Greek word, ethos. Today we might phrase it as, "no just talking the talk, but walking the talk." Leaders do stand out by taking ethical positions on issues, on proposed actions, on behaviors that are not to be condoned.

Yes, at times taking a stand based on integrity is more than painful and final...it may be fatal to career and occupational survival! Taking an ethical stand is not a cop-out for not making a decision. A "NO" as a decision IS a decision. Often times it is a painful decision. Integrity is making a choice, albeit an internal hurting choice that may or may not be painful to others in a situation. Integrity has many origins; it has many foundations from where the leader learned about a ‘right' and a ‘wrong' in making choices. Learning about a ‘right and a wrong' has to turn into facing-up to taking a stand at tough decision time. Facing-up to saying NO, versus coping-out, is stand-up leader behavior! Ethical decision-making is many times a victory of ethical living with oneself versus the need for acceptance and being socially inclusive/popular. The enemy of ethical choice is the need for love. ‘Walking the talk" can be a lonely walk, a walk without interpersonal emotional support ... but a walk of leadership.


Grace is a quality in extremely short supply. Anyone can project confidence when things are going well. Anyone can smile and joke and glad-hand and back-slap when things are going great. In reality, things often do not go well. Life is like that. Often, the mood of some people gets downright ugly when things go wrong.

The real test of any leader is to remain focused and in control when things are not going well. If we allow ourselves to become angry we lose our focus and ability to make intelligent and rational decisions. If you're looking for your vision of perfection, forget it. It rarely happens. And your vision may be totally incompatible with someone else's vision. It's all subjective. Be realistic: It's YOUR vision. Not necessarily someone else's vision. In other words, be prepared to expect the unexpected. Work, like life in general, often throws curves at you. Usually when you least expect it. Just when you had a great plan you suddenly find you have to change direction and focus. The real test for a true leader is to understand human nature in the work world and earnestly WORK to resolve a problem. To some people "work" is a four-letter world and they would prefer to take the easy and lazy way out i.e. talk about it instead of rolling up their sleeves and actually doing something about it. The world needs fewer talkers and more doers. People, regardless of their background (cultural, educational, religious) appreciate a leader who is prepared to sacrifice and make an honest effort to reach consensus and a solution acceptable to the group. Final decisions may not be all they expected. No leader can be all things to all people.


Prolonged employment has shown one thing. People in the workforce who come from a variety of backgrounds are prepared to work and gain valuable experience in their chosen field. Mistakes happen, but all are part of the learning experience.

If you've ever delved into the backgrounds of famous and successful celebrities in the world of business, politics, entertainment, education, finance and others you would quickly find that almost all had had major setbacks and many mistakes before achieving success in their chosen field. What made the difference was their unbridled drive and determination. When others had given up at the goal line, they decided to go for it. When they were thrown off that proverbial horse they got back on and tried again. Amazing isn't it how many became "overnight" successes after years and decades of striving. There are good bosses and there are bad bosses. Very bad bosses. Some are so egregious their subordinates wonder precisely how and why they were promoted to their position. This is a question as old as civilization itself. Columnist Stephanie Whittaker of the Vancouver Sun recently wrote about a recent Angus Reid poll where Canadian workers outlined the things that bug them the most at work. Topping the list was incompetent managers. Followed by negative attitudes exhibited by co-workers, hypocrisy, colleagues who do not address their complaints but whine instead, and poor communication.

How ironic that many organizations whose function is communication, that they are often the worst communicators between and among themselves. It's somewhat akin to the plumber who does great work for everybody but his own pipes leak at home. Or the mechanic who restores cars to perfect running order while his own vehicle falls apart.
Unless you are lucky or have led an extremely sheltered career, sooner or later you will have such a boss. Despite your best efforts nothing seems to help. Our best advice is to grin and bear it and to smile like your feet are killing you. It's tough, but realize it won't last forever.


As human beings we are not patient, especially in this fast-paced world. Things just don't happen fast enough to suit us. It reminiscent of the man who prayed to the Lord proclaiming, "Lord, please give me patience...but I want it NOW!"
Human behavior is repetitive. Some toxic leaders have a habit of calling a meeting at four o'clock on a Friday afternoon in the summer when most people have thoughts of going home to their families and getting a head start on their weekend. Needless to say the mood around the conference table can be tense and resentful and employees are not committed to the meeting regardless of its intended purpose. Take the case of an ex-military man working in a corporate environment who would tuck an 18 inch ruler under his arm like a swagger stick, while strutting around the conference room and talking down at those assembled around the table. Colleagues would roll their eyes while poking one another under that table. The atmosphere was almost always tense and did little to promote communication and a good flow of ideas. Too many workplaces seem to have at least one or more persons who will not let go of a previous career and move on.
Others have what we call terrible "I" trouble. These types live in the past and love to regale people proudly with something they accomplished years before, as in "I" did this, and "I" did that. We all know somebody like that.

There is a man named Chad Campbell, a young Texas golf pro on the current American PGA Tour. Not long ago he appeared in a television commercial where he claimed that growing up in west Texas his folks taught him the value of an honest day's work. "They told me", he said, "That if you have to tell people how good you are, you're probably not that good." His fellow golf pro from the previous generation, Juan (Chi Chi) Rodriguez, the likeable and diminutive swashbuckler from Puerto Rico once had this comment about achievement when he said, "You know, the older I get the better I used to be!"

How leaders deal with situations is crucial. One of the most difficult things in life is to say, "I'm sorry", or, to bite your tongue. Look at such situations in the broader context. A valuable life lesson to be learned here. In the case of our ex military man, accept the fact that not all people conduct themselves this way regardless of their previous calling.
Harboring resentment will only weaken and destroy you, not the person to whom your resentment is directed. Did you ever shake hands with someone and immediately count your fingers to ensure they were all still there? Some 'leaders' are so egregious they would shake your hand, smile, look you straight in the eye, and with the other hand metaphorically stab you in the back. Nothing or nobody in the world is totally useless.

Even a clock that doesn't work is still right twice a day. Bad bosses can always serve as a bad example. They will always be a great example of how not to be. Understand that in terms of human thoughts and relationships we are no different than generations of people who preceded us. What made them tick - makes us tick. Our technology is better, but in meaningful terms of how we react and treat other human beings, ask yourself, has anything changed?


In our competitive environment today most employees in every section within a large corporation is made to feel that their section or department is the most important in the whole company. Most employees are made to feel that their position and their department is the center of the universe...that the whole company revolves around them and their section. Numerous incentives are advanced to promote and solidify this thought.
There is nothing inherently wrong if the exercise was positive in terms of contributing to the good of both the company and the employee.

"We get too soon old and too late smart" - old Swedish proverb. True then. True today.


All companies want to increase their profits and expand their horizons. Most employees are committed to the company good, to work hard and make sacrifices for the future success of the company and for their own fulfillment as productive employees.
All of us feel good when we are productive. Such is human nature. So often in their heart of hearts leaders feel that some goals are mission impossible. But in the spirit of achievement we still give it our best to find that by digging deep, going that extra mile, it finally happens. Success. As human beings in the workplace our ego drives us forward, it propels us. A reporter once asked a leading athlete if it was a burning desire of his to be the absolute best in his field. Without hesitation, that athlete stated that desire was simply not enough. Then, with emphasis he said, "You've got to have that fire in your belly to be the best!"


Virtually every employee regardless of position wants to be meaningfully utilized. Productivity defines us as individuals. All of us feel good knowing we worked and contributed to a goal. We like to see our efforts and contributions recognized.
Work is not an exclusively North American ethic. It is world wide since the beginning of time. Basic needs of food and shelter are endemic. Our sisters and brothers around the globe are like us. The extent to which we meet those basic requirements differs. Yet, in our North American society with our designer jeans and striped toothpaste we foolishly believe that we are so much more advanced than our earthly cousins. Let us not get too full of ourselves or too complacent. It has often been said that necessity is the mother of invention. Someone, somewhere with a burning need for something will come up with an idea to get it. Funny, how the oldest and most basic things get lost in our modern "with it" society. Technologically, in the West, we are one of the most progressive and modern societies on Earth. Yet, in terms of how we treat our fellow man, we have much to learn and to grow in terms of human relations.

There is a "P" in the word and in the behavior of leaders...the behavior and the word is H O N E S T Y.

- Leadership is transparency AND the search for being open
- Leadership is honesty in relationships AND working with staff (not seeing oneself above the staff Associates)
- Leadership is a trustworthy leader to accurately report the message
- Leadership is a caring servant leadership..."walking in others' shoes and attempting to feel what they might be feeling"
- Leadership is delivered through supportive productiveness
- Leadership is 2.0 in the global competitive 21st century

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Mark B. Silber, Ph.D.
Leader Educator
San Diego, California


"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
J.K. Rowling

Different human beings have different personalities as they cope or ineffectively make choices when facing challenges in their lives. Different organizations have personality ‘flavors' and different cultural personalities in their coping or coping-out when dealing with competitiveness.

Dumbledore is not minimizing the importance of exhibited abilities, outstanding talents, or the depth of base knowledge that is translated into productivity greatness. All of these building blocks are earmarks of winners of both individual and organizational performance.

He is emphasizing CHARACTER ... personal and organizational; that is, what character (values) are being exhibited at points of choice. Choice points are action points for making a decision. Healthy ethics and a consistency of "positive" morality are sustaining for the organization as it holds its head up high when facing tough financial decisions.

The "Iron mistress" of the intense global marketplace is unforgiving of decision errors. She does punish unethical business acts, sometimes quickly and sometimes through the passage of time. The iron mistress does turn into the "iron maiden" of punishment as organizations show their hand of immorality at decision choice points. The demonstration of lack of character has few, if any, hiding places in today's global village of instant communications!

When an organization recruits applicants for employment, it is critical to explore and probe deeply into moral factors considered by those applicants in their decision making process. Offer multiple and different conflicting situations to every applicant and question the underlying issues-morality components they considered in making their decisions! Challenge their stated ethical issues to note the ‘backbone' strength of their convictions ... do they stand firm or flee the defense of ethical issues involved in these situational tests/case problems?

In-house leader education must continuously address the ethical components of decision making, decision making at ALL levels of the organization. The years 2002-2003-2204-2005 highlighted multiple examples of executive ethical failure. These attempts to unethically profit at the overwhelming pain and expense to the corporate existence and the stakeholders, both within and without these destroyed corporations, were disastrous.

Winning organizations are ethical-reviewing, ethical teaching and ethical supporting of decision making morality in management development curricula. Yes, curricula....not just a single class...but across multiple leader courses! Character and showing that strength while facing tough decisions is the championship of leader behavior in action. Dumbledore said, "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are ..." (J.K.Rowling)

(Silber and Vianna, 2004; AuthorHouse Publishers)

This reference book is ideal for in-house management development and leadership education. It is a real world, non-theoretical book. Practicality and not-often talked about management behaviors are addressed in a tough-minded and hard-hitting manner for upward career and performance success.


What a welcomed change in organizational personalities since the 1960s. Diversity has provided "personality brightness" to USA organizations. Multiculturalism has enriched organizational perspectives in depth, breath and far reaching scope to compete both in regional and international markets. Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, (Business 2.O August, 2005) has pinpointed that employee talent, here and abroad, has become an international commodity, and that global markets are increasingly employee-integrated.

Intellectual capital is sought, hired and cross-educated in organizations that are today's and tomorrow's winners! In winning organizations being seen as "different' does NOT mean being "less than" ... differences are seized and capitalized upon for the enrichment of the organization culture.

Talent from anywhere in the global village have been and are now educated in leading Universities worldwide. It is this author's opinion that the task ahead for USA organizations is retaining this transnational pool of talent, rather than letting this pool of human excellence return to their native nations for ‘better opportunities" after being University educated in America. Hiring is now across geographical borders; the educational stream of global talent has been consistently enlarged. Winning organizations capitalize on this talent base.

Organization personality grows in performance strength when multiculturalism is found in its employee mix. New communication styles, new meanings in human interaction, new living modes and media as Associates grow in becoming real and open Associates with each other. Strangers and possibly their ‘different ways of perceiving" can and usually become intertwined for ALL to benefit. Empowering and joy do come from the expansion of intercultural social values.

Enrichment is the by-product for the employees, their families and for the enrichment of the organization personality. The willingness to explore others is to discover the wealth of emerging friendships and insights of innovations through others' eyes.

An international climate than stimulates worldwide talent search and talent utilization now exists. The breakthrough in developing new ways to solve problems calls upon multiculturalism today. New organization structures, new organization designs to facilitate the rapidity of new ideas for rapid adaptation are vital to utilize the core competency of global talent available to organizations.

The author highly recommends that a byline be placed under the name of the organization situated on the outside roof line of the organization:



Children's' stories are really stories for adults too. The direct and indirect messages in Alice in Wonderland reflect organization personality lessons as well. As the author recalls, the Mad Hatter shattered and scattered his efforts, his focus and his attempt at accomplishments in all directions. This is called being polyphasic.

When Alice fell into the big hole in the ground, she came across the white rabbit she was seeking/searching for in her travel. The rabbit asked Alice where she was going. Her reply was that she basically did not know where she was headed. The rabbit replied, "If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there."

An organization of excellence has the opposite personality of the Mad Hatter....it is focused. It has self-discipline of its strengths. It is NOT running around like a chicken without its head. Its attempt at accomplishment is NOT scattered, shattered or polyphasic while vainly trying to do multi-tasking concurrently.

One of the keys that open the door of organization success is multi-tasking, but sequentially, NOT concurrently. Winning organizations expect and reward multi-tasking capability, but the winners inside that organization, that make that organization a winner, concentrate on tasks sequentially ... not out of rigidity, but out of completion of the sub-steps (and step function progress) that lead to closure on successful outcomes. Mad Hatter personalities are NOT welcomed or rewarded.

The white rabbit really is encouraging Alice to (1) set a goal outcome and (2) stay focused on that desired goal. Embracing organizational growth, organizational change and organizational revitalization are m-a-r-v-e-l-o-u-s goals.

But do these goals have clarified objectives that have clarity to the participants? Clarity must precede understanding. After clarity of the desired outcome, after the clarity of the understanding of mission-vision-purpose and meaningfulness of the objective ...then comes FOCUS.

Alice, in the story, needed BOTH the clarity of her goal as well as her FOCUS on that desired goal.

Healthy and effective organization personalities have what Alice did NOT have....they have clarity of objectives, open and full disclosure of those goals, assets to support the attainment of those goals, have identified the road to get to those outcomes, and FOCUS.

The author recommends & makes reference to Jack Canfield's book, "The Power of Focus" wherein he asks some success-seeking and success-sustaining questions regarding the salient value of FOCUS:

"What are opportunities to engage your strengths?"
"What do you do effortlessly?"

"What do you do that others find difficult?"
"What opportunities exist in the marketplace for this?"

"What could you create using your unique talents?"
"Can you let go? Can you let others do what they do best?"

Organization personality also reflects the questions above which were primarily directed toward individuals. The message is the same for individuals and an organization....focus, stay focused and keep you eye on the donut, not the donut hole! Search out and identify the road that will get the corporation to its goals. Winning organizations have a personality of commitment, a commitment that is focused on explicit and specific results.

These organizations do many other things that sustain them as winning personalities.
They asked themselves are they being efficient only or being effective. They take the time-outs for reality checks. They check-out with their Associates on barriers that hinder and hassle them. They calibrate the friendliness of the working environment and the trust in that climate + the enthusiasm of the Associates


What do Mothers say to themselves when the playful children suddenly go quiet in another venue of the house? There is a very, very high probability that she remarks, "What's wrong; what's happening?" When there is a change in the enthusiasm level in the environment and an environment goes quiet/silent, the quietness signals "something is changing or something has changed".

Clinical Psychotherapists tune in when the patient talks about his/her marriage going quiet with silence hanging heavy in the marriage climate. Therapists have a saying, "A silent marriage is a dying marriage." When an organizational climate lacks zest, could it be that this is a sign of a dying organization?

Human personalities change. Personalities of organizations change. The level of enjoyment of daily living, the level of excitement over learning and the degree of "liking others in relationships" can change. In organizations there are ups and downs of excitement and enthusiasm levels. Group morale changes as does individuals' motivation level change. Conflict replaces cooperation & the zest for the quest.

Organizations do not hire de-motivated applicants. Employees BECOME de-motivated. In the first stages of an organization's formation, the founders and the first hired employees are highly motivated and surely demonstrate enthusiasm. With the passage of time, the constant flow of needed changes and the entrance of new employees, there can be significant changes in enthusiastic commitment. An organization can become a silent organization even on to its decline and death.

What are earmarks and cues of highly motivated Associates in an enterprise with a vibrant personality? What are the ‘whys" of an exciting organization personality?
Organizations that have profitable and progressive personalities are patrons that project these motivational characteristics and components.

Celebrate---Celebrate---Recognize----Recognize---Reward----Reward---Pay Positive Attention---Pay Positive Attention:

To ongoing performance progress
To reaching benchmarks of achieving
To surpassing accomplishment targets

To outside of work academic course completion
To major life events as revealed by the Associate
To emerging expressed desires for cross-training

To team cohesiveness and commitment for results
To individuals who project task identifications
To associates who facilitate other associates

To associates who can laugh = humor/task joy
To those who care to bring innovation ideas
To the diverse attributes of employee diversity

To associates that are willing to explore change and are open to the risk of change
To associates who really do stimulate positive job setting relationships and invest the focused time of leaders

To explore the content of work for boring and out of date tasks
To amputate no longer needed procedures
To discard tasks that can be discarded when they have become meaningless

To add into positions those tasks which excite curiosity and new learning exploration
To add assignments encouraging self expression
To support individual initiative/job empowerment

To manage others as they expect of a ‘good boss' for them (different folks need different
leadership styles, modes, methods)
To honestly and openly explore suggestions/ideas
To address beginnings of interpersonal conflict

To confront malicious and hurtful gossip
To lead by walking around: ask helping questions and being available to all
To show them that THEY are part of something great, useful and relevant
To NOT put off an apology & admission of mistake

To provide the tools/resources so they can perform
To surround yourself with exhilarating, upbeat exciting positive thinkers and testers of reality (doom and gloom persons wear organizations down)
To honestly involve others: making decisions

To control ego and self-focus of aggrandizement
To offer GENUINE praise, not just praising for the routine giving of hollow praise
To Dare to Care

Dr. John Maxwell has made a most profound statement for men and women who would aspire to be leaders of motivated organizations:


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Organization Psychologist

A Super Bowl quote:

"There is nothing wrong with greatness.
Without it, the average only have
to reach average. Too much satisfaction.
Not enough daring to be great! Starting well
is (all fine and dandy), but
in the end is getting it done."

Nick Canepa

GREATNESS is both a way of traveling as well as an end result= getting it done. It is an ongoing, demonstrative ethic of playing life's game as well as a final score on life's scoreboard. GREATNESS is practicing performance principles of peak productivity. On the path toward achieving ambitions, there is a zest to appeasing an ‘alpha' appetite= the appetite to be GREAT.


An ‘alpha appetite' surely does not mean social isolation; that is, flying solo in life without sensitivity to others in the surrounding culture. Greatness is character:
a. Winning is tempered with cooperating and
transparency of communicating with others
b. Celebrating mile marker success-steps with others
c. Listening with two ears and one mouth before decisions
d. Graciousness based on deeply felt humility & respect

The ‘greatness-seeker' is not a loner or show-off exhibitor of W.I.I.F.M. (WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME). Killing dragons and climbing mountains are mutual efforts of sharing fears of unclear and uncertain destiny. Greatness--attainment may or may not involve togetherness, but it does call for caring!


To be a stand-out, not a drop-out or cop-out, calls for the identification of meaningful targets of opportunity. Spotting windows of opportunity requires listening to what is needed, but not being heeded.

Listen for what is different now as compared to the past. Listen for what has changed or is changing.
Listen for what is new or will soon to emerge as new. The author calls that early alert cue-sense= picking up clues or ‘squinting with your ears',

Differentiation is the preamble of target identification; that is, the blunt, the honesty of hard assessment of reality. No comfort-seeking denials of "what is and what is not". Goal setting is not the time for puffery or just seeking to travel an easy yellow brick road!

GREATNESS surrounds itself in the cauldron of (a) the sense of urgency, (b), the sense of pressure for needed results and (c). the desire to be #1, not being content with being second best.

GREATNESS starts, sustains and succeeds with neck stretching, a curiosity for new experiences, the zest for adventure in an expanding world. We suspect that a driving, motivating force is ‘wanting more' and being more(self esteem) through the fulfillment of exploration.


Yes, when situational opportunities appear, possibly some call this ‘plain old
luck', achievers
......recognize the opportunity
...... seize the possibility of success
....... calculate the upside-downsize risks
....... concentrate and stay focused
....... the zest for ‘wanting more'
....... not content to be second best; desire to be #1
Possibly there is a self-appreciation that to be great one must accept the self-accountability to ‘make it themselves'; that is, no one else is going to do the heavy lifting of performing (self acknowledgment to be a success seeker, not a failure avoider! There is a real thirst for moving beyond the status quo...a thirst to be quenched to make one's own destiny!

One suspects that greatness starts and sustains with ‘ants in the pants'= a restlessness NOT to accept whatever ‘just happens' on ongoing living!
Futures do not rest in just sitting still and being content with whatever life hands one.

Futures are based on seeing, searching, seizing and shaping....
NOT ENTITLEMENTS or expecting life to cut one the gift-of-slack. Greatness
abhors the ‘social attitudes' of entitlements=free handouts. Rather, it might well be based on early life curiousity, the adventuring for new experiences and an appetite for searching and expanding their immediate world's surroundings.

Could it be that there were early life hurts and pains that molded the ‘altitude' ascent? Mental toughing and mental shaping can occur by picking up self after the pain of stumbling, the hurt of rejection, the disappointments of mistakes...yet the ongoing attitude of never being satisfied and the passion to gain and to polish trying anew! Yes==no ‘give-up-itis'!

Early life mental framing can produce
renewed self-challenging, self-direction, inner choice, being and taking charge of personal growth. There is value in work and work value in making life happen by accepting that the locus of control is within oneself, not in being other-directed!

There is no one single bottom line or base line attitude that produces GREATNESS. Surely it is multi-causative. But not let the author overlook the attitude and behaviors of decidedness...showing to others the face of firmness of making decisions for committed bold action.
Jack and Suzy Welch, in Businessweek, March, 2009, highlight the " can-do mindset, the projection of
belief that it will work out by taking action...execute bold execution produces energy by not showing uncertainty." Commitment is getting into the river of risk, not trying to play it 10000% safe by keeping feet on the shore of the river
and only hoping and continued talking about the ‘maybe' results!THE FRIEND AND FOE OF TIME

TIME....................................60 seconds in a minute
................................ 60 minutes in an hour
............................ 24 hours in a day
..........................8760 hours in a year

The use of time separates winners from whiners! Persons of greatness do not see self or life as passing time, but rather as investing time.

As this article is NOT on the management of time, it would be neglect to minimize or bypass time management attitudes and some of the behaviors of time investing. GREATNESS has the letter "T" contained within it, the "T" of time utilization. Time is seen as a commodity that is not to be wasted.

Here are just a few time highlights:

*** get the time robbers, time wasters, the toxic malcontents from your life

*** invest time in questioning, in cross-checking " information-of-certainty"

*** beware of confusing activity with effectiveness, confusing effectiveness
with efficiency, confusing ritual with performance

*** make calendar appointments with yourself to THINK...set aside
committed closed door time to THINK about targets

*** benchmarking with others of best practices...a brainstorming circle
of people who are successful-winners & challengers

*** state and honor time limits to meetings to prevent ‘meeting drag'

*** limit certain times to return EMAILS (group the answering of EMAILS)

***kill bureaucratic ‘ sacred cows' in clogged & outdated procedure webs

***set and limit time-energy priorities...do not try to eat the total elephant;
successful people have the ability to say "NO" to distractions


It would be presumptuous to believe that "everything you would want to know about leadership is in these four books." However, the reader of this article will be highly served by reading these applied books on leadership acts.....actions of greatness:

Mark Silber
Antonio Vianna
V. Clayton Sherman
Stephanie G. Sherman

The 360 degree LEADER
John C. Maxwell

John C. Maxwell



Among the SKILLS of planning, organizing, influencing change and controlling is the leadership of developing the organizational vision. Vision provides the reasons for existence and the multiple purposes of the organization. Vision is the collection of dreams that generate meaningfulness.

Subsequently, the leader's SKILLS through participative debate, the give-and-take of different viewpoints, establish the mission statements. The mission(s) focus on QUO VADIS = where are we now and going? Generating the culture's objectives give the zest and life blood of meaningfulness in the organizational climate......a major SKILL of great leadership!

Great leadership calls upon leader STRENGTHS. What are the targets of these STRENGTHS?
" Leader greatness focus of peak performing
people, their productivity, task progress and
profit to BOTH complete themselves as human
beings and the prioritized missions."
M.B. Silber, Ph.D.

Surely there is the learned art of negotiating different points of view. Persuasion is a core and salient STRENGTH to either resolve or manage conflicting issues that arise daily and weekly within the organization's climate.

Along with influencing is the STRENGTH to say "NO"! Do not minimize this ability to listen to a dialogue or a presentation and arrive, as the leader, with the conclusion of "NO" to the proposal. "NO" calls upon strength!

Human to human considerations are vital to leader greatness. SENSITIVITIES between leader-with-leader interactions are vital to gaining agreements. Leader-with-followers caring and concern call upon SENSITIVITIES to the differences between individuals. Yes, the statement of "different folks need different strokes" is salient good health..and healing.. as employees try to live together in an organizational climate.

Employees have differences in expectations of their leader's SENSITIVITIES. As best as leaders find possible, might they try to be alert to these differences!

Greatness of leadership is not diminished by recognizing and rewarding others. This SENSITIVITY is called ‘feeding the ego hunger' of others.

" A candle loses nothing by
lighting another candle."


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