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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Common first time leader mistake – assuming the title means respect

Millennial05Earlier this week I started a short series of blog posts on the most common first time leader mistakes by addressing this one – thinking you can control your staff. Today I have a second – assuming that the title (manager, supervisor, team leader, etc.) automatically means respect.  It doesn’t.

Just because you have the title of supervisor, manager, team leader, director, or even vice president, it does not inevitably mean that your employees will respect you. Respect is earned, and usually over time. In fact, I’ve always said that one of the fundamental characteristics of a true leader is that the title doesn’t matter. Some of the most successful and effective leaders have no special title of manager or supervisor, often they are peers or colleagues of the people they lead. But new leaders often assume that when they take over the leadership role and get the associated title, they are now automatically the boss. But it simply doesn’t work that way. Continue reading

Common first time leader mistake – thinking you can control your staff

Millennial04I recently conducted several leadership development programs for young leaders; not “young” necessarily in age, but young in terms of tenure in formal leadership roles. We got in an extended conversation about the common mistakes that new leaders make; ironically, all mistakes that are frequent enough to be well-known but only if new leaders knew any better! So in an attempt to right that wrong, in today’s blog post and continuing for the next two weeks, I thought I’d share four of the most widespread first time leader mistakes. Today’s first time leader trap – thinking that you can control your staff.

Let me make one thing clear, right now, up front. You can’t control anybody! Perhaps your children, but only when they were young. As adults, you can’t control anybody. How do I know this? Because there are hundreds of thousands of people out there in the universe that spent their entire first marriage trying to control another person, and of course, that didn’t work too well! 🙂  Continue reading

Positive role models exist everywhere!

A couple of years ago, I posted a video on the blog under the title of You are a role model. The video had a lot of great messages in it, but more than anything else, it illustrated something that I repeatedly tell leaders – “You are role models.  Whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, your people are watching you, and your behaviour and actions will determine how they behave and act.”  And it really doesn’t matter if it’s at home or at work!

Recently I came across another video that conveyed the same message (and brought a tear to my eye) so I couldn’t resist sharing. Here it is (it is in Thai, but it has English subtitles):

My primary reason for sharing the video with you is to illustrate the importance of being a positive role model in all arenas of your life. But I know there is more than one leadership (and life) lesson to be learned here. What did you get out of this video?  Please share by adding to the Comments below.

P.S. In case you were wondering, this is actually an advert for a Thai mobile company. Cool, huh?

Overcoming reverse delegation

My latest contribution as a member of’s panel of business experts launched into cyberspace this morning. Frequent readers of the blog will recall that since May, I have been writing regular columns for the online version of Profit Magazine. And in case you didn’t know, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, so I’m pretty chuffed to be in such esteemed company. Today’s column is titled:

How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them


It spells out how to avoid falling victim to the classic leadership trap known as “reverse delegation”, the natural tendency to offer assistance by taking back a task you’ve assigned to someone else.

Reverse delegation occurs far more often than leaders realize (or that they are willing to admit). But if you are committed to not allowing your personal workload to escalate AND to building skills and confidence in your people, then it is critical that you know how to respectfully and effectively push back when it occurs.

Take a read-through please (How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them) and then come on back to the blog and share your thoughts. Have you fallen victim to this classic leadership trap? If not, what has been your approach to avoid reverse delegation? Please share so that we can all learn from one another.

Motivating staff after an employee termination – four must-do’s

A couple of years ago, I blogged about The (only) four reasons for employee non-performance in which I outlined the four possibilities that leaders should explore when trying to understand why their employees aren’t making the cut. Ultimately though, when an employee doesn’t perform to the expected level, you eventually may have no other alternative than to fire the person. Employee termination is likely one of the toughest things you’ve ever had to do as a supervisor or manager. You lost some sleep, sucked it up, took a deep breath and did it. So the hard part is over now, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, the hardest part is taking care of those who are left behind. The biggest challenges lie in the hours, days, weeks, and even months following. Any kind of employee termination can have a negative impact on the other members of your team unless you take positive steps to overcome it. Even if your staff “saw it coming” or felt “it’s about time,” the employee termination leaves remaining staff feeling insecure and vulnerable. Which means that you must take action, or run the risk of having your team weaken and falter. Continue reading

Approach travel (and leadership) with an open-mind

TravelA couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a statement made by Paulo Coelho, celebrated Brazilian lyricist and author, that was quoted by the valedictorian at my niece’s high school graduation. Since then I have been reading some more of Coehlo’s work, and one of his blog posts caught my attention, primarily because it illustrates, eloquently, something that I believe in passionately myself — that it’s critically important for a leader to have an open-mind and be accepting of continuous learning. Since we are presently in the throes of summer (at least those of us who live in the northern hemisphere) which often leads to thoughts of travel, it seems only appropriate to share Coelho’s article titled My top 9 travel tips. In summary, here they are: Continue reading

What Canada geese can teach us about teamwork

If you live in Canada or the United States, you’ve no doubt seen the annual migration of flocks of Canada geese as they make the long journey each fall from the north to warmer climes down south. Maybe you’ve noticed that they always fly in a characteristic V-formation; perhaps you’ve even wondered why. The answer: because they know that teamwork pays!

When geese fly in the distinctive V, it’s because each bird is taking advantage of lower air resistance and the free “lift” that occurs in the air upwash zones directly behind the bird in front. Essentially, all the birds (with the exception of the leader) are saving energy by freeloading off the air flow created by another flockmate. But the frontrunner isn’t losing either. Continue reading

Taking PowerPoint presentations from hell to heaven!

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I’ve said this before – people judge you based on your writing skills. Turns out they judge you based on your PowerPoint presentations as well! If you’ve ever sat through the PowerPoint presentation from hell (and we’ve all been there), then you’re going to love today’s guest blogger! Dave Paradi is a presentation expert who helps professionals and executives turn confusing, overloaded PowerPoint presentations into ones with a clear message, focused content, and effective visuals. And (fortunately for all of us) he’s my friend. Which is why he has very graciously agreed to author today’s instalment on the blog by asking (and answering) this key question: “When asking your staff to prepare slides for you, which type of leader are you?” And here is his response.

When it comes to requesting slides from their staff on different topics, I see two types of leaders in the work that I do with organizations: the typical leader and the top performing leader. Here are the differences. Think about where you are and what you can do in order to move from typical to top performing. Continue reading