Photo by Brooke Lark

I’ve had my share of jobs in my career and consequently, many bosses. I’ve had a couple excellent managers and too many bad ones.

What’s a bad boss? Well, I had one who actually spied on my group while we we met to see if we were working. She treated us like children. She rarely praised anyone yet openly criticized us. As a result, most of us acted like children. When she was off-site, some of her employees came to work late, left early and goofed off during extra long breaks. She didn’t treat us like professionals, so (most of us) did not act like professionals.

One of the best bosses/supervisors I’ve ever had just retired. He treated us like professionals. He believed we were experts in our areas. He gave us respect and in turn, we respected him. He was unshakeable. If a “crisis” occurred, he handled it, with class and if possible, with humor.

Leaders ought to carry themselves the way they want their “followers” to behave. They exude confidence in themselves and their employees/civilians. They are astute observers and possess strong people skills. They do not speak ill of anyone (even opponents or competitors). Instead, they emphasize the positive and instill optimism within their team.



What’s Transparency?


I was in a workshop for educational leadership. We broke out into groups and were asked to list cultural values we would uphold as leaders. One group mentioned “transparency.”

“What does that mean?” Our instructor asked.

“You know…you get what you see,” one group member answered. She sounded feeble.

“Transparency.  No secrets!   You share everything…that includes your conversations about other people. When you talk about someone who isn’t there, you should only say what you’d say if they WERE there.”

This is when I realized I have worked in a lot of dysfunctional work environments. How would this affect your professional life? That is, if you stopped engaging in gossip? How about your personal life?





Japanese Ritual Suicide – Power of Culture

Bilocal Culture Crossing


“Seppuku” is a traditional, excruciatingly painful and public way to commit suicide in Japan. It has not been displayed since World War II,  but was widely observed and expected in Japanese culture up until then. Ingrained in Japanese culture is the concept of shame and the expectation of suicide in the face of that shame. In fact, it was not only men who committed suicide (sometimes through disembowelment), but their wives would commit suicide should their husbands have brought shame to their house.

You may have heard of honor killings in India and Pakistan. This, too, is part of their culture. With Internet and social media, some cultures are changing. Closed cultures are opening up due to their youth using social media. They no longer want to embrace these traditions.

Yet, it speaks to the power of culture. Disembowelment? Kill your sister? If your culture dictates that it is right, you will do it, no problem.

Leadership is so critical because leaders help create and maintain culture. An exceptional leader inspires employees and societies. Leaders help create strong, empathic cultures. Thus, it is critical to choose our leaders carefully.