Tag Archives: Leadership

02 in ’12: Walls

Dear You,

You know who you are… or, at least, after this entry, you should.

Yesterday, you asked me a question – “Ikaw, saan ka ba talaga?” (where do you really belong?) I had not idea what prompted that, so I responded with the first thing that popped into my head, “Kung saan ako kailangan.” (where I am needed)

I thought that question was a joke – nothing that meant anything. Until you turned to your downline and said, “Ikaw, ka diba? ka eh.” And then I got it. You’ll never accept the new structure.

So more than anything, I was – I am – so disappointed at you. Despite what everybody said, I gave you the benefit of the doubt because I saw what they couldn’t (didn’t… didn’t want to…). I knew that despite our differences regarding the way we worked, I could still learn something from you. I understood that you could do something that neither I or your person was ready to do.

So to hear something like that come from you changed who you were and what you were in my eyes.

I get it, you know. The change was hardest on you, and everyone’s entitled to feel bad about something they didn’t ask for. And if I had seen you fight against the natural tendency to be completely negative about the entire situation, I would probably not be writing this right now. If you didn’t try to include other people in the conversation, I probably wouldn’t have cared.

But you did.

In this line of work, we’ve always said that “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” I believe in that so much. The change – that’s our 10%. I guess I expected better from you and your 90%.

Maybe the thing that bothers me the most is that you have someone who looks up to you. Again, if no one else was being dragged into that particular conversation, I really wouldn’t have cared. But there was – your person was sitting right there, listening to you. What message do you think he got?

I wish you would let him decide about people for himself. I wish you wouldn’t add little walls between groups or people when there are already so many little fences in existence. I honestly think that walls – regardless of how tall or short – are the last thing we need right now.

But I still have hope for you. I will always hope for you.

Blessed Be,
Phoenixfire

*     *     *

I guess I didn’t realize how much this bothered me until now. But I’m happy it did.

It made one hell of an entry, don’t you think?



Ciao Bella!

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It was a Complete and Total Over-Reaction, Part Un (71/365)

One of my slides says, “Credibility is the foundation of Leadership.”  One of my clients once told me that credibility is so crucial in leadership that being new in the team is not enough reason for them not to know their team’s process.  Credibility, like trust and respect, is not something that you get overnight.  It’s something that you earn, day after day, week after week, month after month… Sometimes, because there is a constant need to prove yourself and remain consistent, it feels like it never ends.

And the truth is… It really doesn’t.

How many of us can truly say that we have had the chance of choosing our boss?  I’ve never had that opportunity – and so I have had many, many moments with the different characters whom I have directly reported:

  • Elaine, Team Lead – my very, very first supervisor.  I didn’t really understand why she became a supervisor in the first place (although now that I train speak about leadership so much, I am willing to keep an open mind that management saw something in her that I obviously didn’t), but for most part, I knew her heart was in a good place.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to take your leader seriously, especially when your lasting memories of her were the words “Thank you for calling _______, this is Arwen.  (laughs) That’s right, Arwen.  (laughs again) Yes, it’s a strange name.” and “That’s ‘f’ as in ‘phoenix’.”

  • Meow, Account Manager / eventually Senior Account Manager – Meow.  Meow, meow, meow.  She and I were destined to spend many, many painful years together.  She was meant for me… Perhaps as a punishment.  Meow had several things going against her from the beginning:
    • She was an external transfer.  Although from another technical account, it was not evident in the way she did things.

    • Our business processes remained alien to her despite being immersed in it for 6 years

    • She perpetually spells “lose” (verb, as in cannot find something) as “loose” (adjective, as in not tight)

    • She has memorable one liners that are funny as bloopers but damaging to one’s reputation as a manager (i.e. “name undisclosed was muggled in a bar…”, something-something, something-something, is in it? (meant as “isn’t it?”, “adding salt to injury”, etc.)

    • She was my one and only manager to whom I said, “You have to understand, real name not used, respect doesn’t come with the position” while pointedly staring at her.

  • Mr. M, Account Manager / eventually Senior Account Manager / Mentor – In a nutshell, Mr. M. was very awesome.  For more details, read this previous post.

  • Patrick Star, Operations Director – Patrick Star, similar to his cartoon namesake, leaves a lot to be desired.  Often an example in my leadership classes, he will forever be part of my lectures… As something all leaders should avoid doing.

  • MagBu, Operations Director – In the beginning, MagBu was a light at the end of a very long and very dark tunnel.  I went from Patrick Star to MagBu and, just like what they say about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence, I stepped out of the darkness and, as my ability to see went back to normal, I realized that the grass on the other side of the fence was just as green and dirty.  And full of shit.

  • Father Bangs, Senior Account Manager  – In comparison to MagBu, Father Bangs was a breath of fresh air.  Although admittedly competent and in possession of people skills, Father Bangs also had the bad habit of only giving attention to those managers to are desperate for it.  I was under Father Bangs during my last days in my first company.  I always wanted to tell him that a part of me really wanted to thank him… Because it was under his management that I actually became a better trainer than I already was.  But it was also under his management when I felt the most worthless in my entire career.

  • Queen D, Training Manager – Queen D was a very, very good manager.  I could see why top management loved her.  She was, however, not a leader (at least not for me) and I could also see why the people – err, did not like her.  I can’t say much about Queen D because I was only really with her for five months and we could go without a real conversation at weeks at a time.  Also, when you’re the Assistant Quality Manager and your boss tells you, “I really don’t know quality.  I haven’t even looks at the scorecards and I’m really not interested,” you kinds lose interest after that.
  • Mother J, Position Not To Be Disclosed – I loved Mother J.  When I met her, the first thing I thought of was, “I want to be like her when I grew up.”  I was only with Mother J for three months, but she did make such a big impact in my life.  If she only knew that she was the person who changed my life in 2010.
  • Great Mother, Position Not To Be Disclosed – I have always been a half-breed.  I am the child of Operations and Support.  I am the child of art and logic.  I am both a drama queen and an ice princess.  With Great Mother, I became the child of both substance and form.  Great Mother is eccentric (in a good way).  She is passionate and over-reactive and she uses the most colorful words.  She has unbelievable standards and she will push you and she’ll make you cry.  But if you take it as it is, if you see the Big Why that she’s running towards, she can make you better than you ever thought possible.

But this is not just a story about the Bosses that I’ve had and the many, many ways that I see them.  This entry is a rant.  It’s about that one non-EQ moment when I lost it while writing and I broke the number one rule that I always teach: I lost my temper.

I wrote a nasty email and, without proofing it, pressed “send”.  Interesting, no?  But time has run out right now.

The nasty email is  another story and I shall tell it another time.

Blessed Be…

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The Art of The Subtle Reprimand (66/365)

In training, we are never encouraged to call out a participant who is misbehaving or not paying attention or causing a disruption. We are instead encouraged to catch his attention in some other way – some trainers opt to move around the room, moving the class’s attention away; others choose to throw out a question and call the participant in question; others still (and this is my personal favorite) strategically change position so that they are close enough to tap the person’s chair or do a pulse check (“Are there any questions?” while pointedly staring at the culprit). Some trainers purposely draws the attention of the class to that special participant in an attempt to trigger that sense of social decency. If all else fails, conversations happen after training hours.

In leadership, we never discouraged from reprimanding or giving negative feedback. We are, however, encouraged to balance it out by giving positive feedback as well. Most importantly, when a reprimand or negative feedback is given, it is a mortal sin to do so in the midst of other people.

As it is always said, “Praise in public; Repriman in private.”

We all know this. And yet we keep doing the exact opposite anyway.  It’s almost as if we never learn.

One day, though, we’re gonna have to.

Blessed Be…

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In Another Life, When We’re Both Cats (52/365)

Very, very recently, I was introduced to a self-assessment that showed what I would be had I been an animal.  With that particular “test”, I turned out to be a dolphin, because I was, by nature, a care-giver (to which I protested very loudly, mind you).  Out of curiosity, I decided to look up more If-You-Were-An-Animal assessments and came up with the following results:


From Animal In You 

The Lion

The lion personality has the unmistakable presence of nobility. Moving with the unruffled calm of a cat and the dignified gait of someone in command, lions have no need to walk or talk quickly since they’re never in danger of being ignored or marginalized. Every now and then, the lion will play to its gruff reputation by dramatically reprimanding a subordinate or impulsively making love to its partner with unsheathed claws. But underneath all its hissing and scratching, it’s still a pussycat at heart.

Lions usurp a disproportional amount of resources with their extravagant lifestyles, and because of their voracious appetites society cannot support a great number of them.

Energetic and strong, lions respect strength in others and have no time for subtlety. Their moods are demonstrated with abandon, from yawning in public to growling at impudent inferiors, and they feel no need to follow social etiquette. They’re always the first to complain about bad food or service in a restaurant, but are fair-minded and equitable and are often called to settle disputes of others.

When a lion is hired into a new job, things immediately begin to change. Alliances are forged and old rules are thrown out without regard for the feelings of others. In short order, there is a new sense of direction and a tangible sense of confidence that percolates throughout the organization. Perhaps because of their powerful personalities lions are not detail oriented, for the minutia of the mundane irritates the lion. It prefers to concentrate on the bigger picture, expecting its mate to do the ‘trivial’ tasks of shopping, housekeeping and childrearing.

In business the lion prefers to surround itself with animals beneath it in the food chain, offering leadership, strength and protection in exchange for loyalty and hard work. Realizing that its survival depends on these animals it is protective and possessive with its employees, but at the end of the day insists on taking the lion’s share of the profits.

Lions are aggressive, predictable and dependable. Others always know where they stand with a lion, and their confidence and leadership abilities make them successful CEOs, company presidents, judges or lion tamers.

Personal Level of Agreement: 8


This quiz, however, kept swinging between the Lion and…


The Rooster

Roosters are those talented, creative, but somewhat eccentric people who make life interesting for the rest of us. Their bird-like minds are always on the lookout for stimulation and roosters display the characteristically high-energy behavior of their species. They are artistic, creative and sophisticated, with a thorough knowledge of fine wines, cooking, writing, theater and painting.

Roosters exhibit a decided theatrical streak as they strut their stuff in the latest fashions. Craving attention, their show-off attitude sometimes generates criticism from those close to them, and the need to be the center of attention permeates every aspect of their busy life. When it comes to clothes, furniture and cars they only purchase the highest quality items and their excessive spending can land them in financial disarray.

Roosters are in big demand at parties. With a witty repartee and an ability to mix easily, they flirt shamelessly while reveling in the glow of the spot-light. Concerned about how they are perceived by others, they are only happy if people are talking to or about them.

The rooster’s active mind is always working on a way to create more drama in its life. Offsetting a feisty and competitive nature is a secretive and aloof side that manifests itself when it feels insecure. And yet, a rooster is a solid friend. Their blunt approach, while sometimes hurtful and tactless, can always be counted on to be honest and frank.

Subscribing to the early bird maxim, roosters rise a little earlier than their competition and could even be accused of having their fingers in too many pies. The world is so fascinating to the rooster that settling down into any one career would be impossibly constricting. Unfortunately, their earning potential can suffer in a competitive world that rewards specialization. But roosters will succeed when they choose a career that presents a variety of challenges, such as medicine, publishing, journalism or acting.

As a salesperson, a rooster is without equal and can sell anything from real estate to used cars. A hard worker with a keen eye for detail, its creativity and dedication make it a wonderful employee. As a manager or business owner, however, a rooster is finicky and picky and tends to alienate subordinates with unrelenting enthusiasm. It is also not a particularly strong team player, and the perceived self-absorbed and sanctimonious attitude breeds resentment.

Personal Level of Agreement: 9


From 2on 

The Lion

Personal Level of Agreement: (I don’t know.  There was no explanation.)

And to think it got that just from me typing in “Joey Palenzuela”


From GoToQuiz

The Teal Cat

You’re the Teal Kitty Cat!  You’re as swift and sly as a ninja and very hard to please.  You can be very soft yet very cruel at the same time.  Your soulmate is the beige racoon and you’re in conflict with the red jaguar.

Personal Level of Agreement: 9 (but not the part about the beige racoon and the red jaguar thing)


From BrainFall

The Platypus (in a former life)

You were eccentric and unclassifiable and it still shows. Your strength lies in your diverse associations with all walks of life. Although many people try to identify you, only you know your true self. You’re a self-thinker and a bit of an introvert.

Personal Level of Agreement: 10


From Surviving Your Serengeti

The Communicating Elephant

The elephant shows us that the art of good communication depends on both verbal and non-verbal signals. Within each parcel of words we deliver is buried a non-verbal message that provides insight into what the words really mean. Skilled communicators understand the need and nuances of both.

Personal Level of Agreement: 9

An this one comes with a great article on communication!


Which one do you think is most accurate? Lol.


Blessed Be…

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How the Selfish Lead the Spineless (44/365)

They say that in mentoring, it is the protege who chooses who the mentor is.  We, as leaders, cannot impose on others and push ourselves to be their mentor.  It has to be their choice.  They have to choose us.

A couple of weeks ago, someone presented herself as a possible mentor to me.  I was willing – whether I said this because it was true at that moment or because agreement was the only possible, non-offensive response I could think of, I do not know – and I told her as much.  Now, so many days and so many run ins later, I SO take it back.

John Maxwell wrote that people naturally gravitate towards people who are stronger leaders than themselves.  Maybe that’s the reason.  Or maybe it’s just the summation of the numerous encounters I’ve had with her.  I’d like to think of myself as open-minded, although I have to admit, I am a little judgmental.  And mapanglait.  But I generally don’t take people’s idiosyncrasies against them.  I mean, I know I’m a little strange, so who am I to judge, right?  But one thing I cannot stand is insecurity.

I have spent so many hours talking about how we should develop people to one day take out place.  I have read about the Law of Legacy and it’s something I found myself to be so passionate about because I believe in it so much.  So when I come up against a person who is so insecure that she couldn’t even set up her downline for success, it takes a lot for me to not say anything.  And, after last week, I can honestly say that my attempt to be non-reactive about it was an epic fail.  The sad thing is, the first time I saw her on the floor, I actually thought she was pretty good.  Her style is so different from mine, but she’s still good in her own right.  And yes, I do believe I can learn from her.  But if she thinks that being a mentor means people will just listen and follow and never question, then I’m sorry, but it’s just not going to work out.

If you think having a selfish leader is bad, think of how life is if an insecure leader handles a people pleaser.  I hate it when people play the victim.  I mean, I like to wallow as much as the next person, but you can’t just play lie down, be a doormat and play dead forever.  I’ve always said that there are no such things as victims – only people who allow themselves to be victimized.  At the end of the day, everything is still our choice.  So if we let ourselves be tread upon because we are such spineless gits, then we forgo any right to complain about how badly we are treated.  This reminds me of that line from The Wedding Date we keep using during sessions – “Every woman has the exact lovelife she wants.”  It might not make sense for a lot of people, but I understand what made him say that.  For every bad relationship we have, for every blow we take, for every burden that breaks our backs, and the end of the day, it was our choice to say yes.  It has always been our choice to stay.

You want to be a great leader?  Raise great leaders.  Choose the life you want to live.  And then live it.


Blessed Be…

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