Once again, this month’s thought to share comes from dialogue with a leader discouraged by the low level of engagement of the employees with which she works. Some are even top-level administrative staff. Our discussion led to a conversation regarding greatness. I first made the following observation in the mid-1990s and expressed this in writing in the book Outcome Management: “Great men and great women become great doing the things they don’t want to do when they don’t want to do them.” I believe that thought holds today as well as it did yesterday—in good times and bad times. 

You might ask, “What is a great employee?” Here are some ideas based on my experience. Great employees:

  • Always seek to do their best
  • Are positive
  • Take initiative
  • Are credible and trustworthy
  • Are self-motivated
  • Meet deadlines
  • Ask the right questions
  • Are respected by their colleagues.

I am sure that as a leader your list might differ from mine, but I’ll wager not by much.

With respect to the quote’s dimension of “doing greatness,” it is my thought that such people are characterized by their intentional behavior and self-motivation. They are willing to:

  • Get up early or stay up late to keep their commitments
  • Have difficult conversations and give feedback to those individuals who require it
  • Turn off Netflix and read a book that will be helpful to them
  • Embrace the vision and mission of the organization
  • Ask for help when they need it
  • Choose actions that are consistent with their values




Proverbs 6:4 (NLT)

Don’t put it off; do it now.
Don’t rest until you do.


Can't Not Do

No Ego

Cy Wakeman (St. Martin’s Press, 2017)


This month’s reading recommendation is No Ego, written by Cy Wakeman in 2017.  Wakeman is a well-known and respected management consultant and conference speaker. It occurred to me in selecting this book that I should have done a review on her first book, Reality-Based Leadership, published in 2010. It is an excellent book. Should you have the time, you might read that text first as it will give you more insight into her thinking. I will review that book in the next several months.

While I heartily recommend this book to you for reasons that I will share shortly, remember that it was written before COVID-19 and the extreme staffing shortages that are presently occurring across all industries. As a result, one might slow down some of the seemingly aggressive steps she suggests with a workforce that’s far from perfect.

The vibrant message throughout the book states that we as leaders shouldn’t spend unnecessary time with employees who are “emotionally expensive.” Wakeman notes the problem:

“They contributed opinions instead of taking action. They judged others instead of offering help. They saw themselves as victims of cruel circumstances instead of recognizing that circumstances are the reality within which they must succeed.”

She further shares her research findings that indicate that the typical employee “speaks 2 hours and 26 minutes all day in drama and emotional waste,” which she defines as “mentally wasteful thought processes or unproductive behavior that keeps leaders or their teams from delivering the highest level of results.”

The remaining chapters of the book offer a good understanding of the dynamic of ego and reality. In describing it, she points out the importance of thinking, attitude and self-reflection, and stresses the importance of accountability, a mindset that is about “connecting without conditions and staying the course.”

I especially enjoyed the last chapter on “buy in,” but as stated before, understand her imperative, “stay in joy or go in peace” in the context of your current workforce and staffing environment. I really embrace her approach to confronting an employee who’s not productive or on board with the organization’s direction and expectations. Her question exposes the core of the person’s issues: “On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your level of buy in into this [for example] new change in strategy?”

This book is an excellent resource, especially for those leaders who lack confidence or are all too frequently dealing with disengaged employees or those who are out of step with the values and direction of the organization.

If you are curious about curiosity this book is for you.

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