Culture of Mediocrity

Culture of Mediocrity

Has the shine of the New Year already worn off? 😕

You’re three weeks into the new year, and the energy, focus, and belief in your abilities to tackle these new amazing, courageous goals might be waning a little. Don’t worry. I got you. Been there.

We come out the gate strong, ready to be a new, better, more improved version of our leadership selves, and we run smack dab into it: CULTURE. It’s hard to be BOLD, much less BADA$$, in an environment that is BASIC.

You’ve done the work. You delivered authentic performance reviews of yourself and your team. You set some AMAZING, courageous goals, and now, you’re feeling like you’re swimming up stream while the rest of the work world heads in the opposite direction.

How do you rise to the level of your authenticity when your authenticity isn’t supported?

Often this feeling comes because the culture doesn’t embrace being BADA$$. But here’s the great thing about culture: It’s formed by putting our values into action. You are capable of leading from a place of values that drive results.

(Corporate Soldier Sidebar: If the values of the organization don’t align to yours, then we need to have a whole other conversation about why you’re there. For now, let’s assume your values align enough to the corporate values to have this conversation.)

As a leader, you have an awesome opportunity – and responsibility – to create the culture you need for you and your team’s success.

Now, you’re probably asking, “How can I, one person, change the entire culture of an organization?” ❌Wrong question.

Instead, ask, “What values can I live and lead by that will drive a culture of courageous excellence for myself, my team, and the organization?”

We’re talking about elevating culture and performance from acceptable mediocrity to courageous excellence.

Mediocrity can be stealthy. It’s like a sheep in wolf’s clothing. It can look like cutting edge excellence on the surface, but when we unwrap it, it’s the same old sappy mediocrity.

You’ve seen it:

🐺SHEEP IN WOLF’S CLOTHING: We’ve got so many amazing priorities! We’re doing great things! Let’s adjust the scope of this important, strategic project for the 13th time so that we make sure it gets done too!

🐏Huh??? How about knowing which projects drive strategy and prioritizing and saying NO to something? Cut the scope creep. Make a commitment to right work to accelerate success.

🐺SHEEP IN WOLF’S CLOTHING: Our commitment to DEI is strong. We have a DEI statement posted on our website, which includes pictures of diverse talent. Yay! Our CEO sends out a year-end Happy Holidays communication thanking everyone for their contributions.

🐏Huh??? What are we doing all year? How about, Juneteenth recognized as a paid holiday, benefits covering transgender surgery, closed captioning for executive town hall meetings, and leadership development programs for women and people of color?

🐺SHEEP IN WOLF’S CLOTHING: We did a remarkable job adjusting to Covid. We upgraded technology. Our staff now works remotely or in hybrid working environments. We got this thing right!

🐏Huh??? How are you creating inclusion for those who work hybrid or full-time work-at-home? How are leaders creating the in-the-office experience for those who are not? How are you equipping leaders for the post-Covid work environment?

The bottom-line questions that you must ask as a BADA$$ leader who leads courageously: What are we doing that makes the difference and what results are we creating?

Courageous leadership calls bullsh*t on the wolf and unveils it for the sheep that it is.

To unveil mediocrity, you’ve got to be on your BADA$$ game!

BASIC Leaders Think: Let’s do what we can.

BOLD Leaders Think: Let’s do what we should do.

BADA$$ Leaders Think: Let’s do what makes the difference.

Remember, you’re capable of creating the life, career, and culture you need for success. Draw from your authenticity: self-honesty, courage, confidence, and resilience.

What values do you need to embrace to be a BADA$$ leader who gets results? Identify at least one right now and put it in action!

More to come on transforming the culture from sappy, accepted mediocrity to courageous excellence. Stay with me.


How to Get to the HEART of How You Lead – Leadership Brand!

How to Get to the HEART of How You Lead – Leadership Brand!

Ok, I admit it. I’m pushing you.

Pushing you to shift your mindset from BASIC, to BOLD, to BADA$$.

And you’re probably discovering: IT AIN’T EASY!

But know that you’re not alone on the journey. I’m right there with you, helping you to put the building blocks together!

We’ve talked about one of the essential building blocks to navigating to BADA$$ leadership: VALUES. Today we’re going to start the conversation about the next building block: Leadership Brand!

Leadership Brand answers the question: Who are you as a leader?

Everyone – those in formal leadership roles and those who are individual contributors – has a leadership brand. We all lead in our own lives and in our work, whether we are anointed a leader or not. We each make decisions about what we want to accomplish, how we’ll use our time, and the resources we’ll engage to make things happen. We. All. Lead. Ourselves first and sometimes others.

The questions become: Who are you as a leader? What’s your leadership brand?

Do you have a clear leadership brand? Check this interview scenario out and decide.

Interviewer: Tell me about your leadership style.

👉🏽Basic Leader: I don’t micromanage. I like to give the people I work with the opportunity to get things done in their own way. For example…

👍🏼Bold Leader: I make it clear to those I work with the important role they play, and I give them clear expectations and room to own the work. Sometimes they fail, and that’s OK. But they typically succeed beyond expectations. For example…

🙌🏼BadA$$ Leader: I’m a motivator and an excellent assessor of talent. I listen to what each person on my team needs, and I challenge each of them to think critically and do what’s best to exceed expectations. My role is to make sure they own their capabilities and to help them stretch to meet their professional and personal development goals while they contribute to the team’s goals. The teams I lead create results that we’re proud of while they achieve personal fulfillment as well. For example…

Do you see the difference? It’s knowledge and ownership of your leadership brand!

In my coaching, I help leaders uncover the answers to three crucial questions that help them define their leadership brand:

🤔Who AM I?

🤔What do I DO like no one else can?

🤔What is the IMPACT I have on others, teams, organizations, and the world?

Doing this work gives you a clear declaration of what you stand for and how you’re changing the world. One of the most powerful things you can do for yourself is understand, believe in, and be able to articulate clearly who you are and what you stand for as a leader. Then live it!

Corporate Soldier Sidebar: It’s not just about understanding YOUR leadership brand. Understanding the answers to these three questions for those you work with is extremely powerful. When we have clarity around these three questions for our team members and colleagues, we can give them the space and support to do great things.

When we try to answer these questions, most of us reflect on our resume, our body of work. We can outline all the things we’ve lead or accomplished and the skills and talents we have.

But leadership brand is so much more. It’s who you are when you strip all those skills, accomplishments, etc. down to their bare essence.

It’s the HEART of your leadership.

Why HEART? Because our heart provides the blood and oxygen to our body that allows us to live and impact the world. Your leadership brand reflects the heart of how you lead. It provides you with the intention (life blood) that fuels how you live and impact the world.

Here’s your takeaway:

BASIC leaders focus on skills, talents, and accomplishments to define their leadership brand.

BOLD leaders know that their leadership brand is greater than the sum of their skills, talents, and accomplishments, but they are hit – or – miss in the delivery of their brand.

BADA$$ leaders own, communicate, and intentionally deliver their unique leadership brand every day because they know the answers to who they are, what they do, and how they impact the world.

Do you know who you ARE, what you DO like no one else, and how you IMPACT the world?

If not, don’t worry. Our next couple of newsletters will help you figure it out.


What’s Your Leadership Brand? Find Your Superpowers and You’ll Find the Answer

What’s Your Leadership Brand? Find Your Superpowers and You’ll Find the Answer

Last newsletter, I teed up the idea of Leadership Brand.

Our unique Leadership Brand is the HEART of how we lead. It provides you with the life blood that fuels how you live and impact the world.

Leadership Brand answers the question: Who are you as a leader? It’s made from the answers to three important questions:

🤔Who AM I?

🤔What do I DO like no one else can?

🤔What is the IMPACT I have on others, teams, organizations, and the world?

You may be thinking, “Great questions, and I’m getting work done just fine without having to answer these questions. What’s the point? “

You’ve heard the adage: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. It’s true in the world of work too!

Here’s the point: Life is hard! (No SH*T!) And it gets even harder when you’re working and facing challenges that threaten to push you to behaviors, beliefs, and values that aren’t truly your own.

When we know and own our Leadership Brand, we know our value and impact despite all those insidious challenges that come with navigating the work world. (More on why this is especially important for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our next newsletter.)

Without a clear Leadership Brand, instead of always shaping the work world in a positive way, the work world shapes us, and not always in the best way. (And you don’t even realize it’s happening!)

One last note to those of you who clear your throat and say from your chest, “I’ve got a clear Leadership Brand honed from years of leading.” You sure do, but stay with me. I bet you discover a superpower you didn’t realize you have that will become foundational for even stronger leadership.

Our superpowers come from the unique combination of skills, talents, expertise and lived experience that cannot be replicated by anyone else! Leadership Brand is all about finding those superpowers and making the most of them!

Corporate Soldier Sidebar:

When I talk about Leadership Brand, I’m talking to everyone: those who have the privilege of leading others and those who are individual contributors; those who are on the front lines and those CEOs who are leading organizations from the very top. LB is about what we bring to any situation, project, or organization whether we are leading in our own lives, or leading thousands of others. Some of the best formal leaders were leading long before they were ever placed in an “official” leadership role.

Let’s get started! It’s time for some radical self-honesty. Let’s find your superpowers! (And if you need some help, click here to chat with me one-on-one or sign up for our free LinkedIn Live Webinar!)

Grab your favorite pen and someplace to capture your thoughts. Find some quite time and space and grab some wine, tea, Coke Zero (my personal fave!), whatever your favorite relaxing drink is.

Settle in. Take a couple of deep inhales and slow exhales to get centered.

  • VALUES: Identify your core values. These are the things that mean most to you and ANYTHING you do – personally or professionally – must live up to these values. (We discussed this a few newsletters ago. Here’s the link for some help if you need it.)
  • PASSIONS: Identify your passions, interests, and the things that bring you joy – personally and professionally. No limits.
  • SKILLS & TALENTS: Identify your skills, talents, expertise, and unique lived experiences.
  • ZONE MOMENTS: Think through times when you were in the zone while working, volunteering, or doing something personally fulfilling. Zone moments are those times when you lost track of time and experienced joy. Take note of what you were doing, why you enjoyed it, and the skills, expertise, or talents you were using. Complete this sentence: Write as much as you need. I am in the zone when _______________.

You’ve got two weeks, until our next newsletter, to get this information down. Be honest. It’ our number one rule of authenticity!

And don’t look for the connection to work or your current role. Just answer the questions. HONESTLY. We’re on a search for your superpowers! We don’t have time for BS!

Next time, we’ll unveil the next step to process, then we’ll put it altogether.

Until them, remember:

BASIC leaders believe they have the basics (pun intended!) for leadership and that their leadership brand will unfold as they lead and will become apparent over time.

BOLD leaders know that they’re not like anyone else and their leadership brand is driven by their unique skills, talents, expertise, and lived experiences.

BADA$$ leaders know their superpowers – the unique combination of their skills, talents, expertise, and lived experiences – that makes them valuable, and they set out to reveal them, own them, and lead with them, intentionally.


Want more help finding your superpowers and figuring out your Leadership Brand? I’ll be hosting a free LinkedIn Live webinar on the steps to Leadership Brand. Click here to sign up.

Miserable and Mind Blown? Values Misalignment Might Be the Culprit!

Miserable and Mind Blown? Values Misalignment Might Be the Culprit!

Did my last newsletter (click here to read) make you feel capable and motivated to be the BADA$$ leader that you are?Well, if it didn’t, this one’s for you.And, in case you missed the last one and just want the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front), here it is:To be the BADA$$ leader that gets sh*t done, you’ve got to turn to your values!
If that doesn’t excite you, you could be having some issues with your values:

  • You’re not completely clear about your values. (I’ve got to nail these down.)


  • You’re clear that your values are NOT aligned with the organization’s values. (WTF?)

Let’s unpack it.One of the most common questions I get in my coaching practice is “How will I know when it’s time to leave my company?” This is the $1000 double jeopardy question that answers #2 above.When there is misalignment in values, you’re receiving a huge red flag that it’s likely time to go.Values alignment determines how you experience your work life and your career.  Sure, you can achieve a level of success being inauthentic and untrue to your values, but will you enjoy the ride?  Absolutely NOT! And we spend way too much time working to not enjoy it!

MIS – alignment leads to MIS – ery. Read that again and believe it.

But if you’re not quite sure that I’m right. Check out these scenarios.

🤦🏽Your boss is an early riser, shooting off emails at 4:30 am. He declares in every staff meeting that he doesn’t need to hear back from his team on nonurgent items until they arrive at work and he doesn’t expect you to live by his work hours. He knows you arrive at 9 am, yet he’s following up with a 6:05 am text asking if you’ve read his (nonurgent) message yet? Really?? Can you say boundaries violation?

🤦🏽Your organization is highly recognized for its DEI efforts, winning awards each year. Yet, when you recommend creating a specific program for minority leadership development to address talent pipeline and glass ceiling issues that EVERYONE acknowledges exists, the response is, “That might be offensive to SOME people. Let’s do a program for EVERYONE.” Really?? EVERYONE doesn’t have a challenge breaking the glass ceiling, folks! Hmm, what’s the real goal here?

🤦🏽You’re hired into your role as a new functional leader. Your energy and passion for your subject matter are identified as key strengths and reasons for hiring you. Your leader says, “Be you! They’re going to love you!” as you prep for your first board presentation. After a successful meeting where the board does love you and you garner support, you’re pulled aside by your boss and asked to “be a little less passionate.” Really?? How can one be too passionate about one’s work? What does that even fricking mean?Whether you value managing your time and energy, authenticity, DEI, family, problem solving – whatever – when you’re in an organization where the culture continually steps on your values, you’re are consistently receiving tacit messages that say:

🙅🏽 “This is a culture of acceptable mediocrity!”

🙅🏽 “Who you are is not enough!”

🙅🏽 “Change if you want to be successful here!”You’ve got a choice to make, Bold Leader. Getting down to your deal breaker values (DBVs) is how you make that choice.Here’s how you identify your DBVs and determine your next move.

  • Identify your top 5 deal breaker values: What are the five top values that are most important to me in my life? Choose the deal breakers and must-haves for you – in life, not just work.
    Why? Because who we are doesn’t change when we log on, attend a meeting, or make a presentation to the board.
  • Take a closer look through the work lens: What five additional values are deal breakers specifically in my work life? Add to your list. No more than 10 values please! Get down to the true deal breakers, the ones that will cause you to walk away from a situation when they are violated. That’s the tough part. This is where the first tenet of authenticity – complete self-honesty – comes in.
  • Compare your DBVs to the values you experience at work: Examine your work experience closely. How do you experience your role and the company when it comes to those deal breaker values? Go through each of your DBVs and rate how well the company’s values align to each of yours. Rate each value comparison as ALWAYS, SOMETIMES, NEVER aligned.

(Corporate Soldier Sidebar: Most companies have great mission, vision, and values statements on the walls, their websites, everywhere. But cultures are formed by how values are expressed and experienced, not simply what’s stated. Evaluate the values expression and experience NOT the statements! You may find a separate set of unstated values that are part of the day-to-day experience!)

  • Tackle the Truth: Review each value and your assessment. Act accordingly.
  • NEVER: 🏃🏽‍♀️ Time to go!  There isn’t alignment between your deal breaker values and the organizational values. When this happens, we feel pinched, squeezed, compromised, and undervalued. There’s NO room for this in BADA$$ leadership. You’re not your best when you’re operating from of a place of “less than” authentic.
  • SOMETIMES: 👓Look at these closely. Are there unique situations or people that cause the misalignment? If it’s your direct leader or those directly above them, would a change in leadership help? Would a different role help? How significant is the misalignment? How often does it occur? Is it something that you can navigate and improve upon? If no, time to go!
  • ALWAYS: 🙌🏽No misalignment here! Lean into your authenticity and accelerate your success!

Bold Leaders, this is a tough exercise! This is where authenticity comes to the forefront. This is when we put our money where our mouth is. We must be honest and act. You can do this!Here’s the BLUF!BASIC Leaders settle for NEVER assessments and continue to work miserably in mediocrity.BOLD Leaders are willing to challenge the SOMETIMES assessments to find places and spaces to exhibit their boldness.BADA$$ Leaders only accept ALWAYS because anything less gets in the way of courageous excellence!Where are you in your journey? Can you take it to the next level?


PS. Here’s the link to my values assessment tool. Put it to work!