Monday, December 21, 2009


Guest post by Bren Boddy-Thomas
Bren is Helpdesk Manager at a Sonoma County's Exchange Bank and sits on the
HDI Member Advisory Board

Rah Rah Go Team! That’s cute on the football field, but look at it from a different perspective.

I’m not talking about someone who LEADS Cheers, but someone who CHEERS LEADERS!

When was the last time YOU cheered on a Leader? I don’t mean a manager. We all know someone who was thrust into the throngs of management. They’re the boss. They make decisions. They manage the team or department. But do they LEAD?
You can Google a million quotes and sayings about leaders. To be a true leader, someone others admire and want to follow, takes strength, competency and courage.

Traits of a Good Leader

  • Honest - Display sincerity, integrity, and candor in all your actions. Deceptive behavior will not inspire trust.
  • Competent - Base your actions on reason and moral principles. Do not make decisions based on childlike emotional desires or feelings. 
  • Forward-looking - Set goals and have a vision of the future. The vision must be owned throughout the organization. Effective leaders envision what they want and how to get it. They habitually pick priorities stemming from their basic values.
  • Inspiring - Display confidence in all that you do. By showing endurance in mental, physical, and spiritual stamina, you will inspire others to reach for new heights. Take charge when necessary.
  • Intelligent - Read, study, and seek challenging assignments.
  • Fair-minded - Show fair treatment to all people. Prejudice is the enemy of justice. Display empathy by being sensitive to the feelings, values, interests, and well-being of others.
  • Broad-minded - Seek out diversity.
  • Courageous - Have the perseverance to accomplish a goal, regardless of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Display a confident calmness when under stress.
  • Straightforward - Use sound judgment to make good decisions at the right time.
  • Imaginative - Make timely and appropriate changes in your thinking, plans, and methods. Show creativity by thinking of new and better goals, ideas, and solutions to problems. Be innovative!

I’m sure all of us know someone who possesses these traits, someone who has taken the time to grow into a leadership role, someone we admire.

Whether you’re a subordinate and appreciate the work they do for you or on your behalf or you’re a superior – mentoring the individual and helping them reach their full potential. Take the time to thank them.  You’ll be glad you did.


Give it some thought.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This is the time of the year when we reflect on the past and look to the future, like the Roman god of beginnings and ends, Janus. We get together with friends new and old. We gather up the harvest of what we have done during the past year and make lists, plans, or resolutions of what we would like to accomplish for the next. For many of us, 2009 has been difficult. Personally and professionally, we've had to weather the storm of economic changes that have caused rapid and massive change in our businesses, careers, and networks. Jobs have been lost, teams changed, training discontinued, budgets cut. As I've written previously in this space, "Although the transitions will be challenging, there are opportunities here." I think it's worth examining a few of the opportunities for 2010 and perhaps some strategies to help us get there.

  • Make a list of your accomplishments for 2009 - It's very easy to forget the positive things you and your team have managed to do under difficult circumstances
  • Decide which of those accomplishments can be carried into 2010 - Not everything can be brought forward to the new year's "books," but there are some trends you can track and follow forward
  • Find the pitfalls from the past year - Make note of the weak spots and areas where you can improve on wins and reverse downtrends. The chief pitfall is deciding ahead of time that your goals cannot be attained.
  • Look for opportunities - Professional, personal, team, and individual opportunities exist. Find them and discover how to capitalize on them
Give it some thought.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject of growing into the new year. Please comment.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Keep the Bar High When Your Spirits Aren't

We all have times when we don't feel like we can maintain our positive outlook. An unexpected setback, an unkind remark, a missed opportunity, the loss of a friend—maybe all in the same morning—and your resolve to be positive goes right out the window. Sometimes a job demands that we do something really unpleasant, and it takes time to recover from the negative impact on us.

When this happens, it's easy to forget how important our own mental well-being is. We can't function up to our best potential, we can't deal with problems effectively, and we have trouble prioritizing work. Probably the best thing any of us can do when we experience this is to take a little time off. We need to step away from the day-to-day and regain our focus and the positive attitude that got us where we are.

Unfortunately, it's not always possible to step away from the work. Even when we're away from the workplace, we are connected through our smartphones or laptops, and it's easy to bring all the internal turmoil home.

When this happens, the most important thing is to remember that the quality of the work you and your team are doing should not suffer. That's why we have teams. Think back to a time when one of your team members suffered a setback. Didn't you step in and pick up some of the work, or make the appropriate adjustment so that they could recover and pick up the load again? Is there someone on your team you know you can depend on to do the same for you? The team should be strong enough to absorb at least some of the extra work.

In this excellent article on the importance focusing on our mental health, St. John Health System enumerates ways to overcome the loss of positive outlook. I suggest at least a quick look at some of the bullet points there. Add some of them to your personal arsenal of capabilities.

Give it some thought.