Ok, your group has jumped the shark, taken that audacious turn where as the idiom says “you know it’s all downhill from now”, and your business is changing substantially as a result.

 There are websites, books, blogs and talk shows devoted to defining shark jumping moments, and the commonality in them all is acknowledging that the pinnacle of “whatever” has been reached, a specific event marks that occasion (Fonzie jumping a shark on water skis, Happy Days, 5th season) and no amount of gimmick, ideas, or hard work will stop the evolution of the decline.

Whatever your shark-jumping event is, it has happened and you need to lead your team through it and on to the next new venture or spin off. Nobody said this would be easy.... and it’s not, no matter how many times you go through it. 

So put your big girl/boy leadership pants on and lead your team through it. 

·         DO acknowledge that the shark has been jumped – this allows your team to move on

·         DON’T minimize the effect this will have on you and your team members.

·         DO manage your operations to keep up high standards of product/work your clients and organization expect. 

·         DON’T give in to letting things slide. As the leader this is dangerous and sets the pace and direction for the team.

·         DO acknowledge the change in engagement levels that will come with uncertainty, fear and anger that are part of the decline of “where we are” and “what will happen to ME” in your team members.

·         DON’T underestimate the effect your mindset towards change will have on your team and their engagement levels. You have to keep your uncertainty in check, too. 

·         DO communicate.  Communicate with your team and your leadership group. You all jumped the shark together and now take next steps together to manage the devolution with communication and transparency at the forefront.

·         DON’T give up and walk away.  As a leader be accountable. Take pride in doing the best you can for and with your team. This is a moment where you can and should be a difference maker. 

Once the shark has been jumped and you and your team need to move on to the next episode or adventure, remember that it doesn’t diminish the episodes and work that came before.  Embrace those moments and build on them for you and your team. Fonzie lives on in all his greatness.....the best one ever........happy days! 

Last week I had a chat with a friend who knows a thing or two about boxing. 

We weren't talking about boxing. Nope, we were talking about the major changes in our corporate world with contracts ending, jobs changing, applications, interviews and severance. 

The turmoil just under the surface swirling around like a riptide is taking its toll on my colleagues as we lead our teams through the few months left before the pinwheel of opportunity stops spinning. And it's taking its toll on me.  

As I was talking about the frustrations, disappointments in people I respected, dreams, wishes, anger, plans and next steps..........and on and on and on...... my friend said in his deep, resonant, calm way " Sue, when you're faced with too many options all at once, you need to take a half-step back".  He went on to explain that when everything is so BIG, big, long, reaching steps away from the situation leave you exposed or out of position. That's why you don't take a full step back.

And then I learned another thing about boxing: Your stance and guard are your foundation for everything. Because of that, they are your confidence. Whenever you get out of position always look to get back to your stance before doing anything else.

So here's to half-steps. Good for boxing and staying in position to react when the bell of opportunity rings. 


And.........here we are faced with challenging, stressful and ever changing situations. How do you pay attention to the present moment, understand your feelings and emotions and keep them from running roughshod over you? 

Being mindful helps you to be aware of your situation and of your impact on other people by your presence and actions.  Too often we become mired in "our" situation overlooking the effect this is having on our teams.  The push and pull of what you feel and want can pull you away from the very values your leadership brings to the team.  

Being mindful is a way of transformation for yourself and can be inspiring to others.  When you take the time and practice slowing down to focus - put the distractions and competitions aside, you will be better equipped to make complex decisions. 

  • Be fully present. As a leader it is obvious when you show up to be fully present for your team as opposed to showing up only because "you have to talk to them - it's on your calendar". It happens too often and creates a slope of disengagement that takes some real hiking to climb back up. 
  • Practice creativity. Creativity and inspiration go hand in hand and are contagious.  What brings out your creativity?  A glass of wine and writing a presentation? 
  • Manage the distractions.  Daniel Goldman, the guru of Emotional Intelligence tells us that "one way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us".  
  • Center yourself.  Meditation - yoga - a long walk in the forest.  Calming yourself by centering yourself allows you to focus your attention and balance  a sense of well-being. This will bring clarity to your decisions and leadership. 
Mindfulness - the power of here and now.  Practice.  It's worth it. 

In an interesting meeting recently, I was taken aback by a comment thrown out accross the table. 

One of the participants said  "so, you're telling us you're the rock star" in anything but a complementary way.  In fact, it was scornfully said in response to an outline of accomplishments and initiatives the team member had presented. 

Wow!  We've all been there in that cringe - worthy moment when you realize you're  auditioning to play in the wrong band.  That no matter what killer riffs you play, what accolades you've received, what your following is, if the band leader doesn't like your style.... that maybe you're standing on the wrong stage.

 The  team member looked like a deer in the headlights trying to formulate the correct answer with no help forthcoming from the others in the meeting. 

So watching this, and thinking about it in hindsight, I think  instead of letting the rock star comment humiliate and demean the contributions made to the team and organization, how about turning it around and saying, Yes, actually,  I am a rock star.

 And make sure you are visible for the value you bring as that rock star; 

  1. Quantify and verify your specialist skills with examples. What is it  above the general skills that you bring? Don't be shy - this is the time to speak out.
  2. Build your network so it is a collaborative effort to ramp up the value of the team.  This is the sharing part - alliances are not just for "Survivor". Trust and respect are the glue that hold (the band) the team together. Of course, you have to have a signal strong enough to build a network on.... 
  3. Document your part in achieving not only the common goals of the team, but personal goals and innovation you bring. Track your accomplishments and file them in your portfolio to present as hard evidence to prove the great job you have done. 
  4. In order to be visible you need to ensure others see your work.  If there is no feedback to your project submissions and initiatives, follow up to see if in fact anyone has even bothered to look at them. You can do the best work, but if no one sees it, and attributes it to you, your value is, well.....marked down while the other team members' accomplishments are highlighted front and center. Ensure your work is presented in a professional format, mistake free, meaningful way and you will be noticed. 
  5. Remember, you need to prove your value to the industry.  Stay updated and current, be specific about praise to your rock star team colleagues and leaders, and navigate carefully through the backstage cords and loops that can trip you and make you fail.  And if your value isn't in being a rock star with this band, remember - there's more than one song to sing.  
Part of building community as a leader is to encourage people to not only take responsibility for their work, but to take credit for it as well.  This contributes to the sucess and overall objectives of the team and the organization, and if we become an autocratic culture of power that lacks the grace to acknowledge and recognize  our various team members' contributions based on entrenched bias, our value dimishes greatly overall.   Rock on!! 


Shared curly fries eaten out of paper wrappers on a tray. Factor in the tiny plastic-formed table and uncomfortable molded chairs, and you have the setting that began an exchange of inspiring ideas, dynamic goals and excitement about new ventures. This exchange of ideas and inspiration a regular event - call it Fry Friday, until well...... it stopped. The ideas stopped flowing and the fry place closed down. 

Enter Cheesecake-Monday. Yup, again maybe an off-the-nutrition-chart item, but maybe that's what it takes for creativity - to step away from the charts and graphs and be inspired. My Cheesecake-Mondays meetings are the jump start to my week where I meet with an inspiring colleague to talk about our writing, ideas and presentation work,  and to share what we call the "one good thing".  We set a goal together of finding one good thing each week that we report back on the next Monday.  It creates an awareness and mindfulness tone to our weeks. Sharing the "one good things" we find opens us up to finding more.  It's not a new idea and we are making the most of the concept. 

5 ways to use Fry-Friday and Cheesecake-Monday to jump start your team creativity

  1. Take the meeting out of the boardroom and get off the phone.  Choose a setting that allows the team to leave the laptops and whiteboards for awhile
  2. Give your meeting a designation, a label.  Make it your own. Be lofty or silly, The Cinnamon Bun Summit, Spaghetti Factory Spark, Tuesdays with Susie, whatever you choose. 
  3. Set a time limit for an hour at the most. This creates an urgency to walk right in, sit right down and let the party begin
  4. Don't talk about the weather. Templates, agendas, standardized topics and reporting can stifle the creativity we want to express. Save those types of meetings for what they are for - measuring results, setting business goals, etc.  The stuff that keep the wheels on the bus. What we are looking for here is keeping the bus interesting for the team to ride in. 
  5. Leave with a call to action. Much like the”gratitude and one good thing” calls to action, challenge your team to be creative in what they bring back next week. You are going to get the stats, the department updates anyway, so ask the team to bring back not only one good thing, but what they are going to do with it.
Team creativity is terribly important to team productivity. Creativity is not just about having fun and painting the bus purple, it's what helps find solutions, build results and engage. Part of Fry Fridays is in knowing that when the fry place closes down, it's time to find new outlets to jump start creativity.  There's nothing worse than fries that have been under the heat lamp way too long, and stale creativity is pretty much the same. Keep your team moving.  Be creative and you'll find inspiration to build great things upon, and you’ll have more fun. Now, let's paint the bus.  

I got the most delightful gift this week from a team member!  It is a Poo Pig - a pig made out of poo and clay.  What makes it amazing (besides the poo humor that turns us all into giggling 9 year olds), is the card that he sent with the pig.

He wrote that he thought I could use a reminder that we all poo - we all step in poo from time to time, and we all sometimes feel mired in poo or nasty situations. He told me to remember the good thing about poo is that it's fertilizer. 

In fact, the directions on my Poo Pig's tag tell me to put him in the garden where he will nourish my plants for two years. 

This reminded me of a team I was involved with where the leader was given an award of an engraved hockey puck.  As he showed it to us, he started a tradition he called pass the puck where each meeting the puck would be awarded to a team member in recognition of something positive. The recipient kept the puck until the next meeting where it would be passed along. Such a simple little thing and yet it built team strength and recognition. It was also fun.

I propose that in addition to passing the puck for positive recognition, we should be cognizant of team dynamics and pass the Poo Pig in times of challenge.  Just an idea......

5 things about passing on the Poo Pig to build team strength
  1. Poo Pigs acknowledge that sometimes poo happens - we are human 
  2. Poo Pigs allow empathy rather than exclusion
  3. Poo Pigs can fertilize team strength to build a stronger more productive team 
  4. Poo Pigs can be shared to open dialogue and should be passed around as needed 
  5. Poo Pigs are funny and we all need to smile and laugh 

Thanks, my friend for the wonderful gift.  I intend to pass it on! 

I've been away from here for awhile writing.  Milestones along the way are the finished short stories and chapters. Reaching these milestones is painful.  Sometimes gut wrenchingly painful. 

I call it the edit that never ends as I work with on a  story of 2340 words that have endless possibility.  The possibility to fear,hurt, uplift, motivate, and feel. To allow the reader to experience the very essence of my story. 

The edit is brutal and can be crushing.  After all, a ton of work has gone into this piece of work that has significant meaning to me. Crushing, but also rewarding to find the right words and phrases to have others "get" what my message is.

The dreaded letter of expectations that we so carefully craft for our employees in order to correct, change, re-build and ensure compliance is another story that should be crafted with more than a cursory edit. The object of a letter of expectations should NOT be to punish  the employee, tear them apart emotionally, and force them into a position of submission.  There are other steps for that. The letter of expectations should be clear, the writer should edit away the confusion and use clear identification of issues, assessment of issues and management of those issues.  

Like the 2340 words I am using to craft my story, the words and meanings of a letter of expectation need to be clear.  Letters of expectation are powerful tools and can get results if used in a constructive way, but if it is read as an "I just don't like you and want you to go away" message, you may want to edit your work. And edit it again. Make sure the message the reader gets is what you are truly trying to say.

I will do this, and I will do that and I, I, I........and yes, you are building a one man band when you exclude, marginalize and discount your team by promoting this kind of leadership into the team dynamics.

It is all well and good to mentor your stars and set them up for success, but by allowing them to take all the action, make all the noise and delegating the other team members to sit on the sidewalk and wave as the parade goes by......well, then you end up with a very small parade when you get to the end.

When opportunities, information, discussion and mentorship are all funnelled into building a one man band member to lead your team; when you force the others to sit back and applaud even when the music is discordant, the results you will get from your team will be like noise skipping on a scratched record - missing the parts that hold the song together. 

5 things wrong with the one man band type leader:

  1. You set yourself up to be deaf to what others are saying over the noise you are making.
  2. You end up missing valuable ideas and contributions as you set yourself up to "do it all and take the lead".
  3. Collaborative team dynamics suffer greatly as the one man band leader is not a sustainable.  Anyone who has every played in an orchestra or band knows that the music flows between sections or instruments.  No single player makes a symphony. Much like a one man band in your team does not make a team.
  4. Disengagement of other team members is going to happen, particularly when there are others in the team who embrace collaborative team dynamics. When members of your team are encouraged/ directed to sit on the curb and wave at the one man band, they will wander off to be engaged elsewhere. To find a parade they can join in. 
  5. You are missing the opportunity to be a conductor - to bring all parts of the team together to work towards common goals. 

  1. Choose your topic and presenter to provide value to you.  What do you want to learn? 
  2. Take notes, squeeze every drop out of the presentation you can to develop yourself. Grab the follow up material. 
  3. Use  available technology to communicate. Join the party! Take advantage of the opportunity to network with like-minded or uniquely "not like-minded" to expand your horizons.

    I just sat through a webinar for two hours. And yes, it was one I paid for.  When I invest both my time and money, I have expectations for some deliverables. And some committment on my part to sit through the two hours to find those deliverables. 

    Found them!! 
     Shout out to Hugh Culver for providing solid material and much inspiration!  Thanks, Hugh. 

Yup, I've been away for awhile.  And been doing some exciting things!  Watch for two books that have been swirling around in my mind and keyboard to be published. 

One is going to help you be a better leader to your teams, yourself and your organizations. Spoiler alert * you will laugh an awful lot too, with the help of a black lab.

Second book is taking a look at how things go sideways and the difficult times we face in leadership.  How to dance when your glass slippers have shattered.  How to use a simply methodology to get through it and build on it.  Using my trademark story telling, this will resonate.  Trust me on this one. 

Can't wait to share with you!!! Stay tuned. 

.........and meanwhile, I am back......