Forty Lessons in Leadership from the Presidential Election

Posted by Richard Moran.


With bias toward no party or candidate, the election process was a robust field of leadership lessons. Here are but a few for current and aspiring leaders…

  1. Personal appearance counts and will be scrutinized. Even when it shouldn’t.
  2. Some things take waaaay longer than you think.
  3. You are never off camera.
  4. Inappropriate actions from the past can come back to haunt you. Even from long ago.
  5. The behavior of those closest to you can have a bearing on perceptions of you.
  6. Listening is a highly underrated skill.
  7. Some things ARE worth fighting for.
  8. Others analyze and second-guess the smallest of things.
  9. There is a limit to how much others will listen to you before fatigue sets in.
  10. Some constituents are so set in their ways that you should go without them.
  11. The “10,000 Hour Rule” does apply although it is not recognized.
  12. Sometimes, although there is nothing to talk about, others talk about it.
  13. Being “authentic” has many interpretations.
  14. Timing matters, sometimes it is just not your turn.
  15. Creating a brand is important.
  16. Records are maintained for a long time.
  17. Using certain offensive words will always get you in trouble.
  18. Staying “on message” makes life easier.
  19. Some people will not like you no matter what you do.
  20. Leaders probably don’t read books on leadership.
  21. Success comes at a cost.
  22. Surveys and polls can be pervasive and influence behavior.
  23. Others pay attention to those closest to you on your team.
  24. A sense of humor can come in handy.
  25. Some things may not be a big deal to you but they are to others.
  26. Your children can be an asset and a good sounding board.
  27. Drink more water.
  28. Sometimes it is better to say “I don’t know.” Is Aleppo a person, place or thing?
  29. Content on the Internet can be full of fiction but labeled as true.
  30. Others can obsess on things you don’t consider important.
  31. How you treat others is a lens through which others see you.
  32. Change course if you need to in order to achieve your goals.
  33. More constituents exist than you think.
  34. Threats are a risky tool to use.
  35. Personality can be perceived as an asset as much as experience.
  36. Big ideas garner attention, even if implementation is unclear.
  37. Constituents will forgive mistakes if they are acknowledged.
  38. News shows can be addicting and annoying at the same time.
  39. Some decisions are best considered without the opinions of others.
  40. Change is an inflammatory word.

An Open Letter to the Work World – It’s Not A Contest

Posted by Richard Moran.



Dear Work World:

Go ahead and boast about your last raise. No worries, brag about how many hours you billed last week. Blow your own horn about how you may have gotten away with a few extra dollars on the expense report. But guess what? Work is not a contest. Work is not a competition among you and your peers, or at least it shouldn’t be. Too often today work has morphed into a never ending series of contests, big and small, that somehow rob the dignity from what we do and erode any sense of camaraderie in the workplace.

It’s too bad because most of us try very hard to like work. I like to work and I like my job but I don’t want to be in contest about who is most successful or who is most miserable. Yet, we all enter the contest at work each and every day.

Don’t believe me? How about a few examples that highlight the contests:

  • Have you ever proclaimed, “ I can’t believe it, I woke up this morning with 300 emails!” You have thrown down the gauntlet on the email contest.
  • Have you ever mentioned that you worked until 2:00am last night? Good for you.
  • I am glad that LinkedIn stops counting connections at five hundred but have you ever mentioned the HUGE number of LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends you have?
  • What about Frequent Flyer Miles? Having the most miles is definitely the contest I do not want to win.
  • How about the number of vacation days you did NOT take?
  • Ever mentioned that while on your way to work you were able to text, listen to a conference call and drink coffee all at the same time?
  • Were you the fastest to hit your monthly/quarterly goal this time? Are you gloating?

Other contests, both implicit and subtle, are part of different careers. In some, the contest is to see who can slack off the most. In others, the contest is to be bigger, faster and richest. In the worst of all contests, work should not be a battle where you are constantly at odds with the boss or co-workers. When the gladiators take positions at work, everyone loses.

Sometimes, the most important contest is with yourself to see if you can accomplish all that you want to during the day. Other days, the contest is with yourself in the hopes you can make it through the day.

Work shouldn’t be a contest. It should be an opportunity to make an impact, to do something good, to enjoy the time spent, to build relationships, to learn, to help other or at the very least, to be pleased in the knowledge that you are supporting yourself or your family.

Why does Bruce Springsteen still go on world-wide tours that are exhausting? Why does Warren Buffet spend his time in financial markets? Why do retirees often miss the workplace? The reasons are many but it’s not about a contest.

Competition at work can sometimes be good and it’s ok to sing your own praises as long as the singing is not at the expense of others.

But World, work is not a contest. It is about showing up and doing something you enjoy and get paid for it.


A Former Contestant

Never Resign Before Landing Another Job

Posted by Richard Moran.


You have had it. The boss is a jerk. The commute is giving you hemorrhoids. The chair in your work space is broken. The coffee that spews out in the office kitchen is toxic. It is time to quit. Wait a minute, don’t do it. Get the next job first, no matter how long it takes.

Several reasons come immediately to mind. The paycheck looms large in this process. As in, if you quit without a new job there will be no pay- check for who knows how long. Another big reason is that it is easier to find a new job when you have a job. Without a current job, future employers want to know what happened and will almost always give the benefit of the doubt to the employer. Were you hard to work with? Were you really fired? What is your problem?

Even in a boom market, you cannot tell how long it will take to find that new job. Could be days, weeks, months, or worse. No matter how much workplace torture, keep the job and ramp up the new job hunt.

Besides, what could be a better feeling than telling the boss you have a great new job and he or she cannot talk you out of it.

© Routledge