It’s Not About Me, Either …

Gay MarriageMuch is being shared these days on all aspects of the recent SCOTUS decision regarding the ability of two Americans to legally commit to each other.  

I have commented elsewhere multiple times on my personal position on all this, but you can probably guess where I am from either the above description of what just happened or my post from yesterday.

As I continue to absorb what seems an unending flow of comments, I am finding that I gloss over both the erudite analysis of constitutional law and theological discussions.  

I tend to move quickly past contributions that display hatred for those who seem different to the writer or predict doom for our society, country, and world.  

I have little time for those who only make fun, especially humor which garners laughter from one corner at the cost of those in another.

However, I do tend to linger on those observations which attempt to convey an individual’s reactions and perceptions from their distinct and human vantage point … after all, that is how we all have to address such issues.

I believe that this post from my friend, Paula, deserve a wider audience.  It is deeply personal, compassionate, and underscores a truth about this discussion. Continue reading

Guest Post: “The Leadership Upside of Getting Fired” via Henna Inam



Today’s guest post is by Henna Inam, author of Wired For Authenticity launching this week.   The subject is one of which I have personal experience and I appreciate Henna’s thoughtful and growth-oriented words:

The Leadership Upside of Getting Fired

by Henna Inam

“Can you talk about a failure you had and what you learned from it?” It was a harmless question from an attendee at a CEO roundtable event I was speaking at a few weeks ago. I shared about the time I got fired from my position as region president for a Fortune 500 company.

After I was done telling the story, the silence in the room was deafening. It was like everyone had taken a collective breath in and was holding it in. In that moment I thought: “note to self, come up with a better story because this one sure is making people uncomfortable”. I made a feeble joke thanking them for the therapy session. Later, one of the CEO’s came up to me and said that the group was quiet because they were unprepared for the level of authenticity and vulnerability in that story. Here’s the story and the lessons learned.

How I Got Fired

It’s not always good news when the HR head calls you up and invites you to lunch. I learned that the hard way. When he did that, I had no clue that I was being fired from a job that I had been in for about 12 months. The assignment was a big promotion on the heels of a huge successful turnaround in another business unit. Rather self-confident in my own abilities, I had taken a risky role in a challenging situation. The business had been declining for two years. We were behind on innovation. It had been a revolving door of predecessors who had lasted less than 24 months. Getting fired from the job in 12 months was a whole new record!

Up until then my career had been nothing short of stellar with promotions every two years, CEO recognitions, stock options. So of course, this came as a surprise. No, correction, it was a shock. I felt shame. I felt helpless. No amount of working harder and longer hours was getting me closer to success. The tools I had depended on were not working. There were many sleepless nights wondering “where did I go wrong? Did I unknowingly swallow a loser pill?

What I Learned from Being Fired

  • Being fired builds character. I must admit, it’s not great for the ego. My fairly rapid rise in the organizations that I had worked in had given me lots of self-confidence. What my self-confidence lacked was humility. I thought I was invincible and could single-handedly tackle any problem, no matter how complex or entrenched. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have experience in that business unit and the pressure was mounting on a quick turnaround. I realized I had been unprepared for the risks I had taken.
  • I needed to redefine leadership. We often think of leaders as people who are strategic, make decisions, move things forward. They lead from the front, setting a vision of what needs to be done and getting others to do it. What I learned is that this is a very narrow definition of leadership. In this perhaps misguided definition of leadership I felt immense pressure to know it all, to not show any weakness or uncertainty about the answers to the complex issues we faced, and to not admit I was wrong. I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t do a good job managing expectations down because of a false sense of responsibility and bravado. I believe we need to make room for leaders to be vulnerable, to be able to say they don’t know when the answers are not clear yet or the situation is evolving too fast. I believe we need to make room for leaders to ask for help. It will better serve our organizations and the quality of decisions we make. It will better serve our leaders.
  • Failing does not make you a failure. Being fired was a much needed wake-up call. I learned that failing at a job did not make me a failure. After a few weeks of intense shame, I learned that I would survive. The company had offered me a lateral move into another role. The person who replaced me was a peer on the team and I learned (with some difficulty) how to let go of what had happened in the past for the sake of my own growth and future success.

The hardest part in the coming months was not the shame. It was regaining a more balanced sense of self-confidence – one that comes from knowing your strengths, and also knowing your weaknesses, and trusting that you will find others who will help. It was replacing shame with a sense of self-compassion and resilience, which is in itself a worthy endeavor.

My purpose in writing this is to encourage all of us to talk about our failures. Doing this reminds us that we are not invincible. It grows humility. It teaches those around us that the act of failing does not make a leader a failure. I was so afraid of failure that it took me a while to even admit that I was in the midst of it. It creates a more authentic culture where people can discuss risk openly and encourage greater creativity and innovation.

Most of all it reminded me that we need all of us, those who lead from the front, those who lead from the back, those who lead from the side. In our rapidly changing times I believe it will best serve us if these roles are not fixed based on hierarchy but are flexible based on what expertise is most needed in a situation and who has it most available to offer. This requires great humility from those at the top and balanced confidence from those at lower levels.

In closing, I hope you will take the time to examine some of your failures and perhaps share these with the people you work with. It created a tremendous connection with the people in the room that day for me, and I hope that it does that for you as well. After all, it is hard to authentically influence people unless they feel truly connected to us.



Henna Inam is the CEO of Transformational Leadership Inc., and author of Wired for Authenticity – now available on Amazon.  Learn more about her work at or connect with her on Twitter @hennainam.

Originally published on June 10, 2015 at


Wired for Authenticity offers a practical tool-kit for leaders who seek both authenticity and adaptability in a 24/7 dynamic workplace.

Through the introduction of seven practices of authenticity, the book defines authenticity as a choice we make in each moment that inspires our fullest self-expression for the benefit of the people we lead. It proposes that we’re biologically Wired for Authenticity; it’s good for our well-being and inspires experiential learning via experimentation and application.

The seven practices help us evolve as leaders to be authentic and trusted, as well as agile and adaptive. This book comes with online tools to achieve goals, take action, learn, share, create community, and celebrate success.





“Leaders without rank busy themselves with the business of mission and course, not might and conceit.”  (Chip Bell) 

Chip Bell

“When Leaders Cry” by Chip Bell is a thoughtful and clear description of authentic leadership, where trust is established by actions and empty symbols of power do not hold sway.

If you believe that leaders should be highly visible and clearly “marked“, you might just want to read this very useful little essay on what true leadership looks and sounds like.  If you wonder how to truly earn the respect of those you serve, you will find some direction here.

It strikes me that the message here is simply that real leaders are real human beings.

Enjoying yet another powerful post from the folks at Lead Change Group …




Something Old, Something New …

A rehash of old ideas?

Updating to make it seem new? 

Trading on the power of a best-selling title from the far away and long past?

promo_04… Well, YES and NO

The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson is available this week, decades after the original and

highly popular The One Minute Manager by these same two authors burst upon the consciousness of a much different workplace.

In 1982, I had already learned something of management with service in the Retail Wars, as a department manager, associate buyer, and store manager.  I was actually in my second career as a higher education administrator and desperately needed help to know how to deal more effectively with those with whom I worked.  It took me two more years to actually read The One-Minute Manager, and by that time I was into a larger role in a bigger institution in a new state.

So it was a great time to try this idea of having short conversations to help people focus and achieve clarity around what they were trying to do.  At the time, I did not always think of what I did as following Blanchard and Johnson’s model.  I do know that my work then and since has been more successful because I continue to manage by talking to folks in these short, focused interactions.  In retrospect, the concepts of one-minute managing have been an important part of my foundation for everything I have done since.


Much of what you will find in this short and enjoyable new edition is old stuff.  The same basic plot and the same basic goal:  to communicate how to effectively coach and lead others through the eyes of a curious hero.

Many of the concepts and even the titles are the same:  We still set goals and praise good performance in short time frames.


The story has morphed some for our modern sensibilities in ways both trivial and impacting.

Personally, I think the best update was the shift from “reprimand” to “re-direct” in the third of the three one-minute elements of effective leadership.  If only the language changed , this would still signal a more thoughtful and collaborative approach than the traditional command and control model of leadership.  However the authors also weave into the whole revision a coaching sense, and not a managing sense.

Since I believe fervently that a coaching model is most effective in our interactions as managers, leaders, and people sharing the planet, this revised title is both welcome and more effective.


A short and very thoughtful book, which you can leisurely read in a few hours and take a lifetime to absorb and apply.   I only know of a handful of books that really stand the test of time to stay pertinent and useful.  Anything by Viktor Frankl comes easily to mind, and so does the whole One Minute Manager series.   This is a book that represents a concept you need to buy, read and refer to often, and when not actively using it, place it lovingly next to the original version on your Special Bookshelf, where only those most valuable titles live.

Loved it then and loving it even more now in the Heartland ….




Ken Blanchard, PhD is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world. He has co-authored 60 books, including Raving Fans and Gung Ho! with Sheldon Bowles.

His groundbreaking works have been translated into 42 languages and their combined sales total more than 21 million copies. In 2005 he was inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 bestselling authors of all time.

The recipient of numerous leadership awards and honors, he is co-founder with his wife, Margie, of The Ken Blanchard Companies, a leading international training and consulting firm.


Spencer Johnson, MD is one of the most admired thought leaders and widely read authors in the world. His books, including the #1 bestseller Who Moved My Cheese?, are embedded in our language and culture.

Called “The King of Parables” by USA Today, Dr. Johnson is often referred to as the best there is at taking complex subjects and presenting simple solutions that work. His brief books contain insights and practical tools that millions of people use to enjoy more happiness and success with less stress.

Over 50 million copies of Spencer Johnson’s books are in use worldwide in 47 languages.


“Just One More … “

Online Addiction Screen Shot

Just one moreI have said this about potato chips, alcohol, and online games …

Just spent the first 50 minutes of my work week saying “Just one more …” as I gazed at mesmerizing screens like the one you see above.

The thing about saying “Just one more” is that we seldom use this as a stand-alone phrase, as in “Just one more …” and then we actually stop.   We tend to use this as part of a series:  “Just one more … Just one more… Just one more … “ and so on and so forth.

Some mistaken beliefs we affirm to ourselves by saying “Just one more” to something that uses our time, talents, and treasure:

We are in control of our behavior and can stop when we want to.

We could resist the temptation, but choose not to do so.

We are just relaxing, not wasting time or avoiding something else.

We are not overly influenced by sounds, sensations, or even a pleasant or rousing “Congratulations” at the end.

Now these are not all or nothing beliefs.

We could stop playing if the house were on fire or someone knocked on our door … probably.

We do exert choice in how we spend our time and sometimes the choice to waste time is both deliberate and helpful as we manage our stress.

We are usually aware of the influence of visual and auditory stimulation on our emotions and can cognitively adjust for undue influence.

The real questions for the day are these:

What are you saying “Just one more” to that you should not do or should do less?

What would you gain by saying “Enough” or “Not today” to something that tends to suck up your time, talents, and treasure?

How can you change to a more productive stance, while still keeping the balance?

As is often the case, the questions I pose to you are the one I need most to consider myself.

BTW:  I completed that last game in under 2 minutes:).

Enjoying being able to squeeze some learning from my time-wasting in the Heartland ….