A Look in the Mirror

The last post identified the cost of having a toxic workplace. Leaders who think they might have a difficult or toxic workplace can refer to expert Christine Porath, author of The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It. Porath suggests that leaders look to themselves first.

This approach intuitively makes sense, yet without a bit more it is hard to know what to do.

Porath writes:

Begin by evaluating your own actions.

She goes on to list five questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do I behave respectfully to all employees?
  2. Do I treat individuals on whom I rely, or who can do good things for me, better than others? 
  3. Do I keep a steady temper regardless of the pressures I’m facing?
  4. Do I take out my frustrations on employees who have less power than I do?
  5. Do I assume that I am omnipotent?

The key to looking in the mirror is to check the image a person sees. We have blind spots about our own behavior. Sources for feedback include peers, and asking for feedback from direct reports. When asking for feedback, you as the leader need to be willing to acknowledge the response. Always thank people for feedback and explain that you would like time to think about how to incorporate the feedback into your work. Once you have applied the feedback you can check back again. This provides an excellent model for candor and civility.

A good resource for the this process is Marshall Goldsmith’s book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.  When we work with organizational leaders it is a book and a process that we utilize to support leadership development.


Graphic of CultivateSeeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  We cultivate conversations about leading (and developing emerging leaders) with civility.




Civility Hero: Cool Cat Diego

1st_and_main_-_diego_resizedIs your workplace was full of interesting personalities like Diego, Julie, and Chet?

They are characters on Starbuck’s first ever animated series.  The fun part of 1st and Main, a series created by three animators of The Simpsons: John Frink, Joel H. Cohen and Rob LaZebnik, is that we get to see a kind-hearted humor presented in a slice of workplace life in America.

In the coffeehouse, there is an element of civility taking place at 1st and Main. In the first episode Diego, the cool cat barista, is the civility hero. He’s got some emotional intelligence going on and plays along with Chet’s goal. Chet wants the young couple who are deciding on a baby name to select the name “Chet” so he makes sure his name is last name to be heard so it lands at the top of the list.

Our civility hero, Diego could be rude and ignore the ambitious eager beaver. Instead he plays along and calls out Chet’s name four times. Watch the episode and decide for yourself what keeps civility in check. Also enjoy the last minute plot twist at the end of this short.

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Celebrate the Bill of Rights: A Reminder to Speak Up

ap_documents_billofrights-282x300Two hundred and twenty-five years ago today the bill of rights was ratified in the United States. The first amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In celebration of this day, take a minute and recall the long history of people valuing the need and right to speak up. Of course there is an art to speaking up in a way that people can hear us.

Here are 5 tips for speaking up at work:

  1. Ask questions to understand what is expected of you?
  2. If you do not agree with a workplace practice or behavior communicate it in a conversation rather than in a passive aggressive manner.
  3. Look for solutions rather than problems.  Once you identify a problem consider and brainstorm with others for a solution.
  4. Keep focused on the solution even if you sound like a broken record.
  5. Listen to others when they speak up.  They might be saying the same thing you are trying to say.

We want to know what you think. What other tips do you have about speaking up at work?

Gather 510 px squareSeeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  We cultivate conversations about leading (and developing emerging leaders) with civility.