Thursday, August 18, 2016

20 Things the Most Respected Bosses Do Every Day

I stumbled across this fantastic article written by Bill Murphy Jr., for Inc.  How many boxes can you fill with check marks? 

Think about the best boss you've ever had.
Maybe you're fortunate, and we're talking about the person you call your boss today. Maybe it's someone you recall fondly from years ago. (Maybe you don't have a boss--good for you!--but I'll bet you've had one at some time in the past.)
Regardless of who this person is, I'm confident I can describe him or her. That's because highly respected bosses often have a lot in common with one another. Here are 20 of the key things they do almost every day.
Bonus content: The Big Free Book of Success (free 133-page e-book)

1. They share their vision.

The most important thing a leader can do is provide his or her team with a goal that is worth their time. Granted, the boss doesn't always get to set the agenda, but a great one will advocate for something worthy, and ensure that he communicates it effectively and often.

2. They develop expertise.

What's more annoying than working for a boss who doesn't actually understand the job, and whose authority vests entirely in the job title? The boss doesn't have to be the number-one expert in every fact of the job--that might be impossible--but he or she had to be competent at all levels.

3. They respect people's time.

Great bosses have little tolerance for boring meetings, mandatory fun, and making others wait unnecessarily. They also avoid long-windedness when shorter remarks will do.

4. They set priorities.

When you try to focus on everything, you're not focusing on anything. A smart boss understands that, and realizes that lack of focus can easily metastasize when your lack of priorities means the team isn't moving in the right direction together.

5. They share information.

Some bosses parcel out information like misers, often because they're afraid that if their team had all the facts, they might not be able to lead. There are legitimate reasons to control the timing of information sharing, but overall the more transparent a boss can be, the more respect the team will ultimately have for him or her.

6. They make decisions.

Decisiveness. Super important. Enough said.

7. They offer praise.

People wonder how they're doing. Great bosses let them know, and they're especially vocal and public about it when they're doing well. 

8. They demonstrate empathy.

Great bosses are able to see things through other people's eyes, especially their employees'. Of course this doesn't mean that they are pushovers, but it does mean that they're concerned about their team on multiple levels.

9. They offer thanks.

Building a culture of gratitude starts at the top. If the boss doesn't take time to offer thanks to those around him or her, why would we expect that anyone else would?

10. They pull everyone together.

You might have heard the phrase "gung ho." Reportedly, it derives from a World War II saying that combined two Chinese words meaning "work" and "together." A great boss recognizes the talents of members of his or her team, and strives to lead in a way that lets everyone maximize their effectiveness together.

11. They ask smart questions.

They double-check assumptions in a non-annoying but thorough way that sends the message that they're on top of things. They aren't willing to accept that things should be done a certain way just because that's how they've been done in he past.

12. They have respect for people's lives.

They also recognize that people are just that--people. Work has to be a priority, but that doesn't mean it's the only thing in their lives. They recognize that their employees have spouses, children, friends they need to care for, not to mention outside interests and ambitions. 

13. They hire thoughtfully.

There's a saying: personnel is policy. In fact, this should arguably be the first item on the list. A leader's most important role is sometimes about assembling a team of great people--and, just as important, avoiding letting toxic people join.

14. They accept blame.

Ethical people accept blame for their failings. Maybe they don't dwell on it, but they accept it. Great bosses go a step further, accepting the collective blame when the team comes up short, and then guiding everyone to move forward.

15. They have a sense of humor.

Life is hilarious. Great bosses don't have to be cutups, but they do have to have a sense of humor. They recognize that the crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.

16. They communicate effectively.

No mumbling, no backpedaling. Great bosses find the words to explain what they mean--and they back up what they say.

17. They model ethical behavior.

It's often true that more progress is made when we seek forgiveness than when we seek permission. However, there are rules, social norms, and basic decency. Great bosses strive to uphold them.

18. They celebrate wins.

Nobody likes a boss who thinks the only reward for great work should be more of the same. Great bosses look for milestones to celebrate--whether that means a 15-second recognition or a full-blown party.

19. They strive for excellence.

Because really, who wants to work for someone who strives simply to be adequate?

20. They make more leaders.

Great leaders don't just make happy followers--they inspire more leaders with their examples. Just as important: They're thrilled, not threatened, when members of their teams go on to even bigger and better things in life.
Got other attributes that should be on this list? Let me know, and don't forget to check out the bonus free e-book: The Big Free Book of Success.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

All Kinds of Exciting

I have an announcement(clears throat), we are now officially a SHRM Recertification Provider! 

Penumbra Group is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM.  For more information about certification or recertification, please visit

Stay tuned, there's more to come!

I also wanted to take a moment to mention that I am hosting a FREE webinar, Intro to Ego vs EQ, September 8, at 2pm EST.  Register here to save your seat, space is limited.

We are also offering some brand new webinar topics this fall!

September 13, 2PM EST

September 27, 2PM EST
October 11, 2PM EST

All sessions are recorded in the event a scheduling conflict arises. 

Enter code JPGCLIENT in the discount box and click "Apply" to receive $10 off!

For group discounts/pricing contact

See you on the interwebs!


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I have been specializing in the subject of emotional intelligence for about 15 years now so we thought it would be fun to share some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from people on the topic. Just as a quick point of reference, you can learn more about the subject of EQ on this short 3-minute video.

This is a continuation of the July Performance Pointer.  To subscribe click here.

5. What is the best way to develop more EQ?

There are many ways to develop emotional intelligence, and the method that leads to the most permanent results is via coaching. Hiring an executive coach can help you identify your unique combination of strengths and weaknesses and ways to balance them to leverage the best of you to reach your professional and personal goals. There are also many self-paced resources available from books to webinars.

6. Can EQ be tested?

Yes. There are several validated instruments on the market. We provide the EQi 2.0 as a self-only online assessment tool best used for pre-employment testing, personal development or individual contributors. This comes with a personal debrief session and costs $200 each. We also offer the ESCI from the Hay Group. This is a multi-rater (360°) online assessment best used for leaders at all levels. This comes with a personal debrief session and costs $600 each.

7. Is your EQ level set at a certain age like IQ, or does it change as you mature?

Unlike IQ which is set at about 18 years old, EQ continues to develop as you mature, with a peak at about age 60.

8. Can developing EQ help me at work and at home too?

Yes, we at our firm focus on the ways to use emotional intelligence to be better professionals but there are also some significant personal benefits to increasing your EQ. Most report increased satisfaction with friendships, family and spouses. And people with high EQ are also happier.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dave Novak's Nomadic Youth a People Magazine Exclusive

I saw Dave Novak speak at a conference a few years ago and it’s always so refreshing to find a CEO who really gets the importance of people. And he is a great example of how taking care of employees makes total business sense based on his strong record of financial success. Once I read about his back-story, it sheds more light on why he is so special. I wish him a complete recovery and hope he continues to influence business leaders in this next phase of his career. We need more like him out there!

Please click here to read People Magazine's, July 1, article on Dave Novak.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Interview with Sam Matagi

In December 2010, Sam Matagi’s life changed forever when he lost both of his hands in an electrical accident while working as a power lineman in Colorado.  More than 14,000 volts of electricity surged through his body, leaving his hands irreversibly damaged.  After losing both of his hands, Sam credits his recovery to the dedicated professionals at the University of Utah Burn Center and Rehabilitation Center.  Now Sam finds his inspiration and strength in helping others who are struggling to accept personal challenges.

Sam(right) with Penumbra team member Steve Friedlein
JS You and your brother have both experienced terrible tragedies and instead of letting it crush you, you are both thrivingWhat family trait do you think has helped you the most?

SM We have the ability to go through change because of our upbringing.  From very early on, we were used to changing the way we did things.  If a problem presented itself…we had the creativity to think of a way to do overcome it by doing things differently.  In my life now for example, taking a shower without hands could be a daunting task if I wasn’t willing to accept the result of my injury.  For all of us, progress will be halted until we’re ready to accept the new places where life leads us.  I was blessed to have experienced a lot of change growing up, and was always encouraged to find ways to solve problems.

I believe it’s true that the only thing that is constant in life is change.  If we want to thrive, we have to be able to accept the unexpected.  The longer we protest, the longer it will take us to get over it.

JS Today you volunteer and help others facing similar challenges.  In your opinion, where does resiliency come from?

SM My resiliency comes from my upbringing.  In our family, we’ve experienced a lot of tragedies, & we had to learn to turn around, get back up and get going again.  The main positive example in my life is my mother.

My mother was an orphan, and she experienced a lot of terrifying things as a child.  But, you would never know the challenges she’s faced by talking to her.  She’s always bright, smiling and positive.  Those attributes are what I think creates resiliency. 

A lot of times when something like this happens to someone…they become bitter. 
When I went to the grocery store recently, there was a cashier watching me do my thing, and it was taking me a long time. When I finished she said, “I would have helped you, but I was afraid that you’d get mad.”  I thought, this must be a learned behavior from a prior negative experience she had with someone else.  

So, when a person comes up and asks me a question about my injury, I don’t want them to go away with a negative experience.

It’s important that we’re not offended by other people’s curiosity.
Every time you have an angry reaction or when you’re disturbed by someone’s curiosity – it’s going to set you back.

You have to be willing to put yourself in a vulnerable place.  People have to put themselves into a vulnerable place to approach me and speak with me, and I have to put myself in a vulnerable place to be willing to respond and answer questions. 

JS Most people don’t prepare for hardship until it’s upon us.  What is your advice to others to be best prepared for turbulent times?

SM The advice that I’d give to help prepare anyone for future challenges, is to stay positive when bad things happen.  Regardless how big the challenge is, it will open up a window of opportunity.  When I first got hurt, I didn’t see the opportunities, and it was like walking into a dark cave – But I knew there was an end…and I just had to keep moving forward even through the setbacks. 

Even with small struggles and challenges…the way you react is going to be magnified later on when you encounter extremely traumatic circumstances. 

Be willing to change.  A lot of people get upset when they have to do things differently. First, they protest.  But, the more willing they are to accept change, the faster they’ll be able to get past any trauma regardless of how overwhelming it may seem.

Sam has his own Youtube channel called the No-Handed Bandit where he shares informational videos he's made for amputees and their families, or if you just want to be flat-out inspired!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Striving to be a Generalist: The Paradox of Leadership

I know many people are fans of the Strengths Finder concept – essentially you need to identify your strengths so you can pick jobs and careers that leverage them and not worry so much about fixing your weaknesses. Although that would be ideal, I don’t know many jobs that allow you to only do things that are strengths unless you have a very specialized role. If you want to be a leader, especially a senior leader, being a super specialist is going to be nearly impossible. Think about it, as a senior leader we need to know a little bit about the many things that are within our scope of responsibility. So the higher up you go, the more uncomfortable it gets. A lot of executives struggle with the thinking that, “I should know this piece of my business in detail,” or “I should have a handle on this,” or “I’m going to get asked a question and I won’t know the answer." And, in fairness, most people are promoted based on expertise in a specialty, but the strongest leaders actually understand the opposite is true too.
The reality is, to be a good leader you shouldn’t be involved in the nitty-gritty details of every piece of your business. It’s not practical because you create bottle necks or end up micromanaging too much; there are only so many hours in a day. You need a strong team of specialists beneath you, so you can focus on the strategic needs of your function. The last few times I had this conversation with senior leaders, they’ve looked at me and said, “Thank you.  You have no idea how much relief I feel right now to hear you say that.” Letting go of expectations that you should be omnipotent is the first step if you want to grow in a leadership capacity. Think generalist, not specialist.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Month in a Minute

We are easing into summer with a slower month of client events. As far as travel goes, however it has come with its own share of adventures. On June 15th I was scheduled to leave Portland Maine, bound for San Francisco via Charlotte on American Airlines. Those of you who have been following me know I am no fan of the airlines and have a lot of experience with delays, changes and the vast number of travel issues that occur. Even by my already low airline standards, this month wins the award for BAD.

Speaking at the Building Owners and Managers Association International(BOMA).  What a fabulous group!
I was flying to San Francisco to speak at the National Apartment Association conference on the 16th. Before we left Portland the pilot warned us that there was weather near Charlotte but said it was safe to leave anyway. We were in range of Charlotte when they put us in a holding pattern. They needed us to circle for 30 more minutes but our plane did not have enough fuel so we were told they were diverting us to Tri Cities airport in Tennessee to refuel and then fly to Charlotte. I alerted Jane to my change in plans and she called AA to see if I were to miss my connection if they could add me to the list of the later San Francisco flight. The phone agent said she had no knowledge of our diversion, the system was not current and until it showed our diversion they couldn’t add me to any back up lists.
We arrived in Tri Cities and sat on the plane on the ground for an hour. Jane again called and they still didn’t show any diversion so still would not help us come up with a back-up plan. I checked the status of my original connection to SFO and even though the inbound showed it wouldn’t be in until our departure time, my connection was still “on time." Finally, a ground agent in Tri Cities came on board and told us that we would not be going to Charlotte NC, instead we were going to Knoxville TN. Anyone who wanted to go to Charlotte could take a 3-hour bus ride they would provide. Otherwise, there were flights for us in Knoxville to Charlotte, Dallas or Chicago. They gave us a phone number to call to make changes, but closed the door and told us to turn phones off so there wasn’t any time to do anything. We finally arrived in Knoxville (5 hours after we boarded the plane in Maine) and the last flights of the night were all preparing to board. Ironically, the plane I had just come in on was turning around and going to Charlotte but none of us were offered seats on it. And none of us were offered seats on the Dallas or Chicago flights either even though all three flights had empty seats, because “they didn’t have time to print the tickets for us without delaying the flights.”
After a virtual mob scene ensued, the gate supervisor made an announcement that Knoxville had told Tri Cities that they could only accommodate 20 passengers, but Tri Cities sent 62 instead, which meant no one was accommodated. A classic example of pass the buck. I called the special 800 number they gave us and spoke to a nice lady who said, “You are all set, we have rebooked you from Tri Cities to Charlotte, and on the later flight to San Francisco that gets in at 2am.” I said, “That would be great but I am not in Tri Cities. I am in Knoxville.” She said, “I show you are in Tri Cities. We have no information about you being flown to Knoxville.” Serenity now.
As you can probably guess, I was stranded in Knoxville for the night (at my own expense), I missed the speaking engagement the next day and American sent me 15,000 miles for my “inconvenience." I have a different word for it, but whatever.