9 Core Truths From Frontline Managers


The real me isn’t the person I describe.

No, the real me is the me revealed by my actions.

Malcolm Gladwell


I recently concluded a training program with a group of managers who work in the hospitality industry. I Zoomed with them once a month for six months. During that time they participated in various other opportunities offered through HR.

At our final session I simply asked:

What have you learned that surprised you?

How will you follow through on that insight in the months ahead?


And so began a free-wheeling conversation!


The following nine insights emerged from our conversation.


If embraced and put into action by the managers these insights will set each of them apart from the pack and will help to make each of their teams a stand-out!



I used to care only about my agenda. I now see that aligning my goals with those of my boss will help me, my boss and our department.


How can you help your direct reports align their goals with yours?


I used to make them do it my way – now I see there’s more than one ‘better’ way.


This is the essence of “trust” – letting team members devise additional ways for reaching goals.

How can you foster more “better ways” in your team?


I hate failure – but there’s no getting around mistakes.


No one likes failure for a host of reasons. What do you personally do when you fail?

Beat yourself up or learn from your mistakes?

What do you do when your team members make mistakes?

What do they think you’ll do?


I easily get defensive – too easily – and I need to relax.


It’s so easy to get defensive!

What do you do when you have a difficult conversation with a direct report, colleague, customer

so as to help defuse defensiveness in them? In yourself?


I need to be a better active listener.


Listening is THE greatest gift we can give someone – and it is a skill that needs mindfully to be developed.

What can you do to make it easier for people to listen to YOU?



I want to do for my team what my favorite boss do to me –

she made me feel comfortable.


What do you do to make your team members feel comfortable with you? What does “comfortable” look and feel like?

Do your team members see you as someone with whom they can have a productive working relationship?



I do have a ‘little’ work to do with myself.


Smart people ALWAYS have “a little work” to do with themselves BECAUSE they know they’re a work in progress.

What specifically are you working on this week?



I have a lot of skills from having worked with a lot of personalities.


Strategic managers are familiar with the skills they’ve developed over the years and continually find ways to build on them.

What personality type do you find most easy to work with?

Most difficult to work with? What has each personality type taught you about YOU?



I feel good when I personally live out the values of the company.


Do you and your team all have a shared understanding of what those values are and how they are lived in daily practice?



All of communication is about PSYCHOLOGY and STRATEGY.


Understand what makes the other person tick, what makes you tick, and you can then strategize how to communicate.


The managers now have a keener insight into what makes each of them tick. And so each is in a position to take their key insight from the training and use it to strategize new ways of communicating in smart, healthy and effective ways.


Taken together, these nine insights will allow them to create connection, trust and surprise – the enduring hallmarks of THE BEST!




Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

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National Positive Thinking Day

Your attitude defines your altitude.

Zig Ziglar

This Sunday, September 13th, is National Positive Thinking Day.

I know –  with Covid + mass unemployment + national elections + raging fires here in California and the Northwest – why even bother mentioning this holiday?!

Well, because – that’s why!

My father was a great storyteller who had an appreciation for the absurd. With Scotch in hand, he was a jolly good-fella whom people enjoyed.

Although he had a great sense of humor, my father was not an optimist. While he could laugh so hard that he’d cry, the proverbial glass was ALWAYS half empty.

We were a Catholic family and like many Catholics of his generation, he could quote the Catechism. The first question in that book is: “Why did God make us?”

The classic answer is, “God made us to know, love and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next.”

My father would quote this and point out, “It doesn’t say anything about being happy in this world. We’re not meant for happiness.”

This belief, which is a perversion of Catholic theology, allowed him to explain every disappointment, misstep and misfortune that happened in his life.

He was a fatalist and as such had low expectations for life.

Dreams didn’t amount to much because they most likely would be decimated.

Hopes were pleasant but did little more than aspirin.

I had to work hard to understand how his belief system was grounded in a lie – a lie that allowed him to aspire for very few things of value.

All these years later, I don’t think my father was unique in his fatalism. In fact, I think it’s far more common than we care to admit in this “feel-good” society of ours.

Mildred (85) is the oldest resident in my condo building.

She told me that she and her husband raised their family in this building although she had never wanted to live here. She wanted to own a house but her husband wouldn’t hear of it.

She lamented, “I’ve been miserable in this place for forty years. Can you believe that?” And I did detect a twinge of pride in her voice.

I laughed, saying, “Of course I can!”

It’s easy to surrender power and believe that ultimately life is controlled by forces outside our control.

Viktor Frankl, one of last century’s greatest writers and a survivor of Auschwitz, fervently believed that,

 We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.


You don’t need me to remind you that the circumstances and events of 2020 give more than a little credence to my father’s mantra about happiness!


The haunting and enduring conviction of Frankle bears stark witness, reminding us to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.


National Positive Thinking Day is more than a cute, feel-good fabricated holiday. It’s an urgent reminder to:


Find joy.  Be powerful.  Think positive!

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

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The Only Way To Break The Tyranny of Pefectionism


Perfectionism is not a quest for the best,

it is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves,

the part that tells us nothing we do will ever be good enough.

Julia Cameron



Sally is a multi-lingual, well-traveled client who lives an interesting and “good” life. Heck, I wish I’d lived in half of the countries she’s lived.


She came to me because she’s tired of being mean to herself. She wants me to help her learn how to be more forgiving of her imperfections.


While she was growing-up, Sally’s mother (a single mom) expected her to be “perfect.” And so she placed upon her an array of harsh and unrealistic expectations.


Sally knows she can never attain “perfection,” BUT that realization causes her to slip into an attitude of, “what’s the use?”


Since there is “no use” she freezes and gives up on goals and projects. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle in both her professional and personal worlds.


She sabotages relationships. She sabotages work projects.


Sally’s perception of herself is critically distorted by her insistence on a fathom notion of perfection. When she says that she wants to learn how to be kind to herself, what she’s really saying is that she wants to learn how to get freed of perfections grip.


I’m convinced that the pursuit of perfection has caused more harm than any other character or personality “failing.”

How break the unrelenting cycle perfectionism creates?


Consider these questions:

  1. Who said you had to be perfect?
  2. Why was it important to them that you be perfect?
  3. Did they ever take the time to explain what would happen if you were not perfect?
  4. Have those dire predictions come true?
  5. Since you’re not perfect, how has your life suffered from being imperfect?
  6. If you were able to achieve perfection, how would your life be different?
  7. And if you were perfect how would the lives of the people you work with be different? The people you love?
  8. Since it’s unlikely (seriously) that you will achieve perfection, what can you do to achieve excellence?
  9. Could “excellence” give you as much satisfaction as “perfection?”
  10. Whatever your answer to #9, how do you know that answer is true?!


My suggestion – strive for excellence. Get acquainted and comfortable with excellence. Then – and only then – if you want, begin to strive for perfection.


I think you’ll find that excellence is not too shabby a place!


But – there’s more – always more!


A while ago I came across this passage and it was like that cliched splash of cold water in the face!


While the passage speaks to the experience of gay men, I think it speaks to the experience of so many – gay or straight, male, female or non-binary. I think it speaks to Sally’s experience and she is a straight, cisgender woman.


What would you like me to be? A great student? A priest in a church? Mother’s little man? The first-chair violinist? We became dependent on adopting the skin our environment imposed upon us to earn the love and affection we craved. How could we love ourselves when everything around us told us that we were unlovable? Instead, we chased the affection, approval, and attention doled out by others.

The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World

By Alan Downs


What would you like me to be?

That’s the question Sally was trained to ask of her mother while growing-up. And her mother’s answer was always the same, “I want you to be perfect.”


It’s the question so many of us were trained to ask while growing-up. And the answer many of us received was, “I want you to b perfect.”


And then we grew-up and hadn’t a clue as to what “perfect” was supposed to look like and sound like and feel like.


Sally doesn’t know who she would like to be. She does know that “perfect” is no longer the right answer. From a place of confusion, she lashes out at herself and is unkind.


She asked me to help her learn how to be kind to herself.


The only way she will be kind to herself is if she learns and embraces who she would like to be.


And so, I’ll add two other questions to the above list of questions:

  1. Who do you want to be?
  2. What are you willing to do to become who you want to be?


Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at: