Do You Engage or Disengage? That is the Question.

Leaders are always looking for engagement from their subordinates, but sometimes forget that engagement needs important ingredients which can only come from the leader.

In my experience, leaders must be able to spot conversations that depress momentum and coach the individuals concerned about the behaviors and process of getting things going. Both these things are important in securing engagement of subordinates who want to deliver their best but are unable to in the face of accepted incompetence.

A great way to spot individuals who hold back others is to observe their actions and behaviors in team meetings. Do some people offer solutions when pointing out flaws or do they simply criticize effort without offering any suggestions on how to fix those problems? Do certain individuals restate the same problems in each meeting even though solutions have been provided previously and waste every body’s time in re-clarifications? Do these people hold up meetings by arriving late most of the time?

If the prior solution they had been questioning was rooted in logic, it is interesting to note that once given the control of the project, many of these individuals do exactly what they had been stalling in the beginning. However, given the delay in completion, companies might find their competitors in the driving seat. Every minute lost in petty escapes translates to losses in business opportunity.

Some enterprising team mates address these situations by using  influencing skills to direct the leader’s attention to solving problems rather than getting stuck in details that lead to nowhere. In other words, they try to coach the leader to take action.

People might use these skills a few times but if leaders persist in not taking action, people lose motivation and let things stay the way they are. This is a big loss because people stop sharing valuable thoughts that can help an organization grow.

Moreover, with the demand for good talent growing, there is no shortage of opportunities for people who can ‘make it work’ under the right leadership and motivation. And just as there is business competition there is leadership competition. You might lose your talent to a leader who is on top of the game and knows how to masterfully align team conversations to achieving business goals.

In the end, the process of enhancing your skills might not be easy, but it is necessary if you want work to be completed within a certain time frame and also if you want to retain your employees. The choice on what you want to do, of course,  is yours.




Guest post:Brilliant or Blunder Book Talk- My Conversation with Dr. Mary Lippitt

In this podcast, we talk to Dr. Mary Lippitt about her book Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways to Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity and Complexity. Our conversation centers around leadership mindsets and how these mindsets can help OD professionals  become better leaders.

We also talk about conflict resolution, influencing, and team building with respect to these mindsets. These mindsets help leaders make smarter decisions in challenging situations.

Dr. Mary Lippitt, award winning author, speaker, and coach, founded Enterprise Management Ltd. in 1985 with the purpose of providing businesses, teams and organizations with practical and effective solutions to navigate the modern business challenges. Known for her pioneering work linking leadership development to organizational and individual results, she has been recognized as a leader in helping executives enhance their effectiveness for over thirty years.

You can contact Dr. Mary Lippitt at

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the podcast link below:

For questions and comments, please contact the podcast host Warda Zaman, OD Consultant who can be reached at


Note: This podcast was originally posted on the website of the Institute of Organization Development at

When Leaders Assume

When leaders get their data points from other people without discussing specifics with their subordinates, they set themselves up for failure in communication.

Other people are unaware of the details and add their thoughts and innuendos to the communication process. Checking directly with the person who is at the center of the issue is critical, but many leaders just ignore that step because they trust the third party in that particular situation much more than they should.

Forming assumptions is akin to painting broad strokes on a painting. The details are buried under the paint slathered around. If your goal is to achieve success with your subordinates, you need to treat every situation as different and check all aspects of a story before jumping to conclusions.

Your role as a leader must be to understand your subordinate well and know what influences them. The only good way to do that is to talk to them. They might be doing something a certain way for a reason and might respond well to your checking in with them if you can appeal to their style of communication.

Someone who is sensitive, can be approached simply by asking a series of questions about a situation which pass no judgement. Open-ended questions such as ‘I was wondering if you could share with me we can save $xx through this method?’ coupled with positive body language invite the subordinate to explain to you why a certain step has been taken.

Making assumptions can backfire when the subordinate realizes that the leader does not check in directly. That lowers the level of respect for the leader and impacts ongoing cooperation from the subordinate.

If this is difficult for you to believe, think about yourself. After all, wouldn’t you expect similar treatment from your leader?

How Leaders Can Avoid a Communication Fallout

Sometimes, the quickest way of giving instructions to subordinates is the one in which the leaders are most well-versed, but it is possible that the demeanor that accompanies that style may not rub off well on people.

In this article, I talk about a few ways you can avoid a communication fallout stemming from a negative impact on people . These ways are given below:

  • It is important to observe your own communication in real time. While talking to the subordinates, if  you feel a push back or lack of interest,  revisit the topic and reaffirm commitment. Answer all objections quickly.
  • Try to balance the flaws in your communication style. When times are good, bond with the subordinates, let them see your other side, show them your vulnerability and find common ground with them. It is possible they will be more forgiving of your slip ups.
  • Explain your style to them. Share with them why you reverted to that style. If you have a rationale, they are more likely to forgive. Also, if they expect in future how you might handle a certain situation, they might be more willing to ignore and bring on board other people who do not know about your style.
  • Apologize for a slip up. Ask for feedback and suggestions on how the communication could be improved in future. A pre-planned tool such as a communication plan can help reduce some of the stress and uncertainty on how to proceed in a time crunch and impact communication positively.

Some people might think that these suggestions are too much work and since subordinates have to follow instructions, why bother going into such small details?

Unfortunately, that only works at face value. If leaders want to influence their subordinates, they must be mindful of how people interpret their communication and communication style. In my opinion, it is only in this way that a fallout can be avoided and future conversations can avoid becoming potential battlegrounds.




Make Your Email Signature Work for You

In the age of personal and professional branding, we should try to use all resources at our disposal to get our name out in the world. One of the easy-to-use tools for this purpose is your very own email signature.

Email signatures are a great way to market yourself indirectly to each and every person who receives your email. The signatures, however, need to be put together thoughtfully so that they can help you to the maximum.

A few pointers on having good email signatures are given below. The first 6 are core in my opinion and the others are optional. I have seen signatures being used as partial marketing brochures so it may be a good idea for you to check out whether approaching signatures in this manner this is a feasible option for you.

Include your:

  1. Name and professional certification titles for credibility: Frank Milken, PHR
  2. Company Title: HR Manager
  3. Company Name: Gotek Partners
  4. Phone number: xxx-xxx-xxxx (Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM -5:00 AM EDT)
  5. Email Address: (link the email)
  6. Website: (ensure website is linked)
  7. Social Media links: Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, Youtube (wherever you can be found and ensure linkage)
  8. Mission Statement: We partner with HR departments to deliver exceptional HR services in recruitment. (Optional)
  9. Products and Services: Please check out xyz, zzz. Two exciting products that will change how you work in HR.

It is not enough just to mention the products, you must link them back to the website and make it easy for the person who clicks on them to get to the exact location.  Many people just drop the linking part or give an actual URL which is not linked to the website page. To get to the page you have to copy and paste the URL in the address bar.  The assumption is that other people will go to that exact location by doing the work themselves. The reality is that people don’t. And needless to say it is a wasted opportunity for marketing. 

10. Any other information that strengthens your brand.

A few extra words of advice:

  • Ensure if you are typing a link out, that the link is correct. Many people give incorrect links to their audiences.
  • Test your links. I have seen links that are broken and links that go to other people’s websites.
  • Ensure that your signature has a clean design with very little clutter. Keep to the point.
  • If possible, test how the signature looks on mobile and devices other than your own.
  • If you are putting dates or other information on your signature (talking about an upcoming event), ensure that the information is current. Old information is jarring.

So, tweak your signature today and see what happens. You might be happily surprised.

Helping Etiquette: Communication Around You- Inspiration Series #1

Sometimes you just want to help people. You might genuinely think that your assistance can be of use to them. But it is entirely possible that the help you want to disseminate is not needed by the receiver. Many times people are annoyed at the thought of someone offering them help.

So, whether it is simply help or a material possession, be sure to check whether the people you are making the offer to, are ready to receive.

The grocery clerk at one of the supermarkets I frequent always asks me whether I would like a cardboard box to stock the items I purchased. When I asked him the first time why he would even ask me that question, he told me that people get upset if they get a box and have not asked for it. That just surprised me but it made sense that he would ask the question as getting clarity on this minor detail is a much better alternative to getting yelled at by an irate customer.

Rejection of help should not be taken to heart. One must continue to do good deeds. That is the essence of being human.